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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

‘Alice in Wonderland’ in the movies, on Atlanta stages


Helena Bonham Carter is the Red Queen in the new "Alice in Wonderland" film.

I expect to see Disney’s new “Alice in Wonderland” film among the top moneymakers this weekend. The theater was packed when I saw a preview this week, the audience all too gleeful to put on 3D glasses, to sign and laugh at the right moments, to applaud at the end.

The film, which opens today, is a little of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” a little “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There,” a bit too much Disney and a lot Tim Burton. I have an extreme fondness for rabbits and loyal dogs, but the Red Queen is an unusually great villain. She’s evil in every way, but still worth our sympathy; she’s clearly hurt and insecure.  Unfortunately for everyone else, her only coping skill is beheading dissenters.


"Lookingglass Alice" opens at Alliance on March 31.

But that’s far from the only Alice you’ll see around Atlanta this month. Gwinnett Ballet Theatre will present the …

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Q&A with Jonathan Rej of Atlanta’s historic Plaza Theatre


Gayle and Jonathan Rej, on stage during the 70th anniversary celebration for the Plaza Theatre. The day-in, day-out businesses is tougher to run. AJC file photo

The Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon Avenue turned 70 this year, and it was a big time — all history and celebration.

But a Q&A with Plaza Theatre co-owner Jonathan Rej that ran in the AJC this week points out that the day-to-day is pretty tough: no janitorial services, no time, no advertising for lesser-known films, no money to keep it going long-term. As he said in the article, “We need more money to stay open. As of now, it’s really not going to last — there is no way to make it long term like this.”


But here’s the plan, to match the theater’s relatively new non-profit status:

Now we offer memberships to patrons so they can support us. We are trying to get grants. We are trying to get sponsors. We have gotten a few groups that will support a particular movie. It’s a tax write-off for them.

We are …

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2010 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival winners and encores

jewishfilmThe Atlanta Jewish Film Festival had a big year, drawing a  record 20,145 filmgoers, a 17 percent attendance jump over 2009.

If you missed it, the festival’s Audience Award Winners will each get an encore screening on March 14 at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station, 261 19th St., Atlanta. Tickets to the screenings are $10 and available at

Here’s the winners and their scheduled encores:

Best Documentary Film:Where I Stand: The Hank Greenspun Story” tells the story of a Vegas mob associate/newspaperman and is narrated by Anthony Hopkins. 4 p.m. March 14.

Best Narrative Film:Who Do You Love” tells the story of Leonard Chess, a Polish Jewish nightclub owner who establishes Chess Records. The film is directed by Jerry Zaks, and made its U.S. premiere at AJFF. 7 p.m. March 14.

Did you see these films? What were your favorites at this year’s festival? Share in the comments!

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

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Found Footage Festival comes to Plaza Theatre Feb. 4

Sometime in 1987, two of my friends and I set up a silver video camera about the size of a microwave, donned some spandex-and-feather dance recital costumes (one of which resembled a duck), hit play on the Casio boom box and created a series of music videos for George Michael and Madonna songs in the carpeted end of their basement. Because it was 1987, we called it “Dance Mania,” and because were were 5, we thought it was greatest thing ever.

If this video turned up now, I’d probably be able to laugh for a second before I had to shut my eyes. Everybody born pre-YouTube has those videos, but likely assumes they’ll never see them. I have to believe that kids, teens and adults of 2010 are savvier, or at least realize that to  hit “record” is to enter a contract with millions of potential viewers.

That’s why the Found Footage Festival, a one-night event coming to the Plaza Theatre on Feb. 4, is really a museum to another time — when we recorded family vacations, community …

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Plaza Theatre, Atlanta’s oldest moviehouse, turns 70

plaza13 (Small)

The Plaza Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary on Jan. 15, 2010. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

I was greeted at the door of the Plaza Theatre last night by Scarlett and Rhett. Dorothy and Toto showed up later, and Glinda and the Wicked Witch were hawking raffle tickets somewhere nearby.

What do they have in common? 1939, the year all of them debuted. (Check out more of its history in this week’s Access Point.)

The Plaza celebrated its 70th anniversary last night with a screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” another 1939 delight, and a party/raffle/silent auction to kick off its fund-raising campaign. The Plaza recently became a non-profit, and now wants to be sure it will stay open for years to come. Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne was there, surrounded by police groups of movie geeks who wanted a photo with him.

Here are photos from last night’s celebration. There are a lot more opportunities to celebrate, with the series of 1939 films they’re showing for …

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‘Breaking Upwards’ opens AJFF series for young adults


Audience members found their seats before an Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screening of "Breaking Upwards" at Atlantic Station. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

When I wandered into Strip last night to pick up my ticket for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival “Breaking Upwards” screening, I might have wandered into a class reunion. The crowd was young, boisterous and everybody there seemed to know each other in that I-haven’t-seen-you-in-years-except-on-Facebook kind of way.

This was the opening night of the festival’s young-adult-oriented ‘Scene & Be Seen‘ selections, and it delivered — good mood, big crowd, lovely film. I went alone, and might’ve felt lonely had I not bumped into some people I haven’t seen in about five years except on Facebook.

Other films in the series are are “Ajami”, “Leaving the Fold”,  “Lost Islands”,  “Mary and Max“, “A Matter of Size”, and “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” As they say, “this is not your bubbe’s film festival.”

I loved “Breaking Upwards,” even if it’s not …

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Monthly Sensory Friendly Films made for kids with autism


"The Tooth Fairy" is the Feb. 6 Sensory Friendly Film, monthly screenings for families with kids with autism.

I had every intention of heading to a Sensory Friendly Film screening of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” this morning, but woke up feeling crummy and like hanging out in a movie theater could end badly for me and all the kids there.

The good news is that my colleague, Jill Vejnoska, wrote last year about these screenings. I couldn’t find the story on, so it’s republished below.  The screenings were designed for families with children who have autism. The lights stay up a bit, the sound is turned down and the ads are cut out. More importantly, nobody is annoyed or unkind if a kid starts to sing or walk around.

Carin Yavorcik, the Autism Society media specialist, said the idea started with a mother in Maryland whose autistic daughter got really into a movie and began to dance. They were asked to leave. The mother asked if they could have a special …

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10th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival starts Jan. 13


An image from the claymation film "Mary and Max," which is in this year's Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Twitter account, @atljewishfilm, is a countdown, really. Not so much the days left till it starts, but more the number of shows with tickets left.

From Dec. 31: “ Camera Obscura on 1/23 is all sold out, and we’ve already sold about 4k more tix than this time last year.”

From Jan. 6: “6 sellouts yesterday. A few close to sold out: Protektor (1/23), Seven Days (1/19) and Within the Whirlwind (1/16)”

Ten years in, Atlanta’s is the second-largest Jewish film festival out of about 115 worldwide. Organizers expect to sell more than 20,000 tickets this year. I wrote about some of the highlights in this post from last month.

AJCer Rosalind Bentley wrote in “Atlanta Jewish Film Festival turns 10” about how the festival grew so quickly, and how it decides the selections:

Early on, the Atlanta office of the American Jewish Committee, an advocacy …

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Atlanta Jewish Film Festival tickets on sale now

Tickets went on sale today for the 10th Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, which runs Jan. 13-24. You can check out the full schedule of films and buy those tickets at To see some descriptions and highlights, check out this handy AJC story by Howard Pousner, “Jewish Film Festival announces 10th annual slate.

It’s the largest film festival in Atlanta — it drew 17,000 last year — and the second largest Jewish film festival in the United States, and for its 10th year, they’ve got some fun events planned.

  • For the AJFF  Gala Concert, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will perform music from Jewish film scores, including selections from “Schindler’s List”,”Driving Miss Daisy”,”Yentl”,”Life is Beautiful”,”The Ten Commandments” and more. 8 p.m. Jan. 4. $18-$250.  Atlanta Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St., N.E., Atlanta.
  • Opening night includes a reception at Strip restaurant and screening of “Berlin ‘36.” 5:30-10:30 p.m. Jan. 13.  $36. Regal Cinemas in Atlantic Station, 261 …

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Atlanta counts down to Disney’s ‘Princess and the Frog’


A prince-turned-frog puckers up to Tiana in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog."

With just a few days to go before Disney’s classically animated “The Princess and the Frog” opens, it seems like every little girl in Atlanta is counting down to showtime.

How do I know? Because dozens of parents told me, dead-panning that the countdown has been running since their little one saw the TV commercials/movie previews/Halloween costume/Tiana doll.

For those families, the moment had finally come at an early screening at Atlantic Station this weekend. (Check out these photos from the screening celebration here.) We’re not allowed to publish reviews of the film for a few more days, but I can say that the theater full of little girls, drunk on cupcake and glitter, were squealing at the end. As one mom put it, only now does she feel comfortable with Disney.

The Disney-fied version of 1920s New Orleans gets a lot of screen time, as does a romantic firefly, a musically gifted alligator and …

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