Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speaking In Tongues - A Documentary on Immersion Education


ZAP recently helped San Francisco filmmakers Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider of Patchworks get their wonderful new documentary "Speaking in Tongues" out on DVD. The film won an audience award at this year's San Francisco International Film Festival. Ken Schneider has edited several short films at ZAP, and it was a great pleasure to help Ken and Marcia get their beautiful topical film out to a broad audience.

The heated debate over bilingual education usually takes place in courtrooms, at academic conferences and in editorial missives. At its most vitriolic the "English only" camp skews toward xenophobia and racism, while the opposition at times sounds utopian themes of American global economic resurgence with the aid of multilingual classrooms. Often neglected in this discourse is the firsthand experience of students, an oversight that veteran documentarians Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider beautifully rectify with their latest effort.

Closely following four very different local public-schoolers through an academic year, they draw on subtle nuances of the kids' stories to illustrate the complex shades and permutations of bilingual schooling. Two children are placed in immersion programs to retain their native tongues while learning English, and the other two are in the reverse situation. Their parents list both familiar and surprising reasons for enrolling their children, but each remains a strong proponent of the programs despite criticism from extended family, friends and a loud chorus of English-only activists. Even while dismissing common barbs, the families must confront unique challenges both humorous and serious.

With San Francisco becoming the first city to mandate access to bilingual opportunities for all public schoolchildren, this thought-provoking documentary could hardly be timelier.

—Ilya Tovbis

San Francisco International

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ZAP helps "Repo Man" director Alex Cox finish "Repo Chick" Just in time for VENICE

Legendary, eccentric, Liverpudlian director Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy [1986] Walker [1987]) has made a sort-of follow up to his remarkable 1984 film Repo Man finalizing image and sound in the Bay Area. Richard Beggs (who mixed Repo Man and Walker) joined another long-time Bay Area Cox colleague, composer Dan Wool, to create a sound mix to accompany the picture.

The large cast was filmed almost entirely in front of green-screen with animated and static backgrounds and transportation added in post by a team of brilliant animators, model-makers and digital compositors, many of them from the Tippett Studio (in Berkeley).
Model makers? I could tell you that the action is set in a model railroad world, a table-top experiment by the CIA, but that might be giving away too little.

Stalinist ZAP jumped in at the last minute to transform the highly anarchic and de-centralized work flow with HD color grading, mastering and high definition outputs. Producer Simon Tams had to stand by the HDCAM VTR at ZAP awaiting a final master tape to take away to the Venice Biennale for the world premiere!

Shortly, we'll post a clip from this weird and wonderful film on the ZAP screening room.
Meanwhile, here are some groovy links:

Best DVD of 2008...Again!!!

Best Classic/Catalog Title:The Godfather:
The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount

That, according to Reuters and Home Media Magazine! (see below)
Was there a dinner?
Did we have our ZAP-monogrammed tuxedos pressed in time?
Were we invited? Did we even know about this award?
But still darned proud!

The Fifth Annual DVD Critics Awards honor the top DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles
from 2008. The awards, presented by Home Media Magazine, are traditionally held
during the summer Home Entertainment Summit, which has been delayed this year.

"We still wanted to honor the best titles on DVD and Blu-ray as soon as
possible," said Thomas K. Arnold, Home Media Magazine publisher and executive
producer of the Summit.

The delay allowed organizers to create special categories for an online consumer
vote, a first in the history of the DVD Critics Awards.

More than 130 entries were judged by a panel of critics and journalists.
Submitted titles also were placed in eight special categories for the consumer
vote, bringing the total number of awards to 21.

Warner Home Video`s The Dark Knight won Best Theatrical Title, plus the consumer
categories Best Action Title, Best Superhero Title and Consumer Favorite.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment`s Pixar release Wall-E also fared well,
winning for Best Animated Title and taking the consumer vote for Best Sci-Fi

In all, Warner won five awards, while sister company HBO took three. Disney
earned four awards.

2009 DVD Critics Award Winners:

Title of the Year:The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Theatrical Title:The Dark Knight, Warner
Best TV DVD:Mad Men: Season One, Lionsgate
Best Classic/Catalog Title:The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Gift Set, Paramount
Best Collection/Multidisc Set: The Sopranos: The Complete Series, HBO
Best Nonfiction Title: Young @ Heart, 20th Century Fox
Best Animation Title: Wall-E, Walt Disney Studios
Best Kidvid Title: Tinker Bell, Walt Disney Studios
Best Nontheatrical Title:Stargate: Continuum, Fox/MGM
Best Extended Cut/Director`s Cut:Step Brothers, Sony Pictures
Best Extras: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Universal Studios
Best Packaging:Masters of Horror: Season Two, Anchor Bay
Best Blu-ray Disc:Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution, 20th Century Fox

ZAP Revisits "Forrest Gump" - Streets November 3!

Paramount has announced November 3 as the street date for the new Blu-ray release of "Forrest Gump.

In July, we finished work on a new greatly expanded 15th anniversary re-release of Robert Zemeckis' 1994 film "Forrest Gump." The special 2-disc Blu-ray only package will hit the street sometime in late 2009.

ZAP produced over 180 minutes of brand new high-definition content on a wide range of Gump-related topics, in collaboration with Paramount Home Entertainment. We had terrific support and cooperation from our neighbors at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic here in the Presidio (ILM was responsible for those jaw-dropping composite effects sequences in the film), and from Imagemovers, Robert Zemeckis' own company based in Carpinteria and Novato.

Extras for this release include:
  • Greenbow Diary
  • The Art of Screenplay Adaptation
  • Getting Past Impossible - Forrest Gump and The Visual Effects Revolution
  • Musical Signposts to History - Music as "Chronological Set Design" for the Times of Forrest Gumpwith an introduction by rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres
  • Little Forrest
  • An Evening with Forrest Gump (a panel discussion at USC with Tom Hanks, Bob Zemeckis, Gary Sinise and screenplay author Eric Roth)
Stay tuned for more news on the release.