July 7, 2023:
We are so pleased with the reception that greeted the North American premiere of Leah Gordon and Eddie Hutton-Mills’ beautiful film Kanaval! Leah has been continuing her tour with the film and the artwork of Eugene Andre and the artists of Grand Rue. Follow her work here, and here. As the film is preparing for distribution outside of the festival circuit, the artists, creators and producers who made possible it are always working.
Mazibel is also proud to announce that we will be working with Nina Danino on the completion of her film Maria about the extraordinary life of controversial opera diva Maria Callas. We are happy to be able to commit to supporting short film projects under the Art House umbrella, and are very excited to be a part of the work.
We are pleased to announce that we will begin research and development on a new project in Mexico commencing in April this year. While it is too soon to disclose particulars, this will be our first, scripted feature film in the speculative / folk horror genre! Geoffrey and I have been hard at work on this project for many years, so watch this space for more information.
Following the spectacular reception of Kanaval: A People's History of Haiti in Six Chapters, winning a Special Mention in Cinematography, and the Irish Film Critics Prize for Best Documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival we are planning our festival circuit for 2023. It looks pretty exciting. I hope to see all of you in the front row when we come to your city.
We are thrilled but not surprised to learn that Kanaval: A People's History of Haiti in Six Chapters has received rave reviews from the London Film Festival, and has been shortlisted for Best Debut Directors and Best Cinematography awards! This is great news, and we are sure it is just the beginning.
Mazibel Productions is thrilled to announce that we will be on board as executive producers for Leah Gordon and Eddie Hutton-Mills' stunning new film Kanaval: A People's History of Haiti in Six Chapters! As anyone who is familiar with our work here at Mazibel knows, we have been longing for a mainstream, theatrical release of a film that tells the story of the Haitian Revolution - one of the most important stories that is also among the least widely known. Leah, who has been working in Haiti for over 20 years as an artist, curator, ethnographer and filmmaker sets the story of the revolution against the backdrop of Kanaval, a festival where art, music and performance are used to tell complex stories about Haitian history, the evolving Haitian identity and global politics. Released in the UK in conjunction with the BBC and BFI, we will be working on promotion and distribution for the film in the rest of the world in the months to come. Help us get as many eyes on it as possible!
We at Mazibel have been gravely neglecting our website, due to the inundation of new projects that we are currently producing. We are sorry to have left you hanging, but doing the work we love seems as good a reason as any for a bit of radio silence. We are sure that you missed us, though, so we thought we would give you a quick update.
Emily has been working on the Mongolia project in Toronto and Khovd, and we will be putting up a teaser in the next two weeks to give you a sense of the shape it is taking. We couldn’t be happier with the work we’ve done so far, and there is no time like lockdown to tackle a complex edit! Here are some photos of Emily, her multi-talented team, and the local scenery to tide you over.
Work on the Burryman project nears completion. We expect to release the film this spring, hopefully in time for Cannes 2015.
22 MAY 2014:
The screening was a success, and by all accounts our film stood out from the other eight, both thematically and in its delivery. We got a lot of compliments and heard some sounds about distribution we hope to amplify. Wednesday was not a terrific one for long format film, but Emily saw a LOT of shorts, and was generally impressed by all of them. Today brought sideways rain and slippery cobblestones, but three times on the red carpet for the Canadian release "Mommy", Ken Loach's "Jimmy's Hall" and for the midnight screening of "Pyo Jeok", made it all worthwhile - not least for the fact that Emily can gift an orchestra ticket to one of the dedicated cinephiles who have been out getting rained on in their tuxes and sequins and waiting for a miracle. Another solid remote scriptwriting session brings us ever closer to our Mexican sleeper, and little left to do means we can enjoy the show until Saturday. Everything from here forward is a gift.
21 MAY 2014:
A beautiful day in Cannes and our first day off since the festival started saw Geoffrey off to London and a little bit of good news in our pigeonhole. Wake the Dust screened in a showcase at the Short Film Corner yesterday about YouTube, and will be screening today in a lineup of women filmmakers as a part of a series of talks and screenings.
20 MAY 2014:
Three films in one afternoon is a pretty good run for Geoffrey's last proper festival day. Dinner at Le Hit, our favourite restaurant, wrapped up a rainy day of cinematic voyeurism. "Jauja", Lisandro Alonso's surreal drama set in Argentina is both beautiful and bizarre, easily ranking with "Red Army" as one of our top films of the festival so far, followed by the less-than-touted "Bird People", about people who flake out on their lives in various ways in a Parisian airport hotel, and concluding with When Animals Dream, a Danish "Let the Right One In" meets "Teen Wolf" coming of age story that few survive. Today we will be tying up loose ends, preparing a script we are working on remotely for a possible co-production and Geoffrey will be headed back to dirty Londra.
19 MAY 2014:
The cross-Cannes sprint (heels optional) brought us to two impossibly long queues, one of which turned us away within arm's reach of the door. The second, however, lead us to two of the last seven or eight seats in a surprise Korean John Woo-style crooked cop shoot-em-up (or blow 'em up, or stab 'em) called 'A Hard Day' that closed off the evening nicely, and earlier than planned. A late start in the morning, despite only a brief glimpse of sleep, brought us to the Grand Thèatre Lumière in the nick of time for a sun drenched red carpet screening of Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut (The Homesman). Sadly, the sun put on a better show. Some nice food, frustrating misses and a few hundred minutes of queuing in the hot sun revealed our learned Englishness and our very last nerves, only to be soothed by a productive night of writing, working and strategizing for the upcoming week. Bring on a busy Monday!
18 MAY 2014:
Spent a solid few hours writing, working and preparing for a busy Sunday, and taking a break (of course) for a late show. You can read some of Emily's reviews of the films we have seen so far at Cinementia: cinementia.wordpress.com
17 MAY 2014:
Stepped out onto the red carpet last night for Atom Egoyan's new film "The Captive", and, while it was an interesting film (stay tuned for reviews), it was somewhat eclipsed by Gabe Polsky's "Red Army", a doc about Slawa Fetisov and the Soviet hockey team. Slawa was in the audience and introduced the film alongside newcomer Polsky. "Red Army" was an engaging look at the drastic differences between the USSR and the West when it comes to method and ideology in sport, patriotism and politics, but it also showed the difficulties faced by the Russian star players when they first appeared in the NHL in the 90s. And on that note, GO HABS GO!
6 MAY 2014: "My life is about waiting for money. My life isn't about filmmaking -- that's not what I do. It feels incidental to what I do, which is hunt for the money, cast movies and re-cast them and try to get projects going or stop them from falling apart. I spend my whole time repressing everything inside of me until I get the money to work, and then I just go." Terry Gilliam
A morning spent discussing the five best films of Terry Gilliam lead to a longer discussion about the nature of filmmaking and what makes a great director versus a great film. Either way, we must learn to love the hunt as much as the creative quarry, so this is the lesson we take into the field today.
If all goes well on the work front this aft, tonight will be our first night on the Tapis Rouge. We're going to see the premiere of Atom Egoyan's new film The Captive. Also on the list for the day are a doc about the Soviet hockey team called Red Army that is definitely worth tag teaming the queue for a couple of seats.
15 MAY 2014: Here we are at Cannes, once again for the 2014 festival, this time with our most recent film Wake the Dust. Emily finished Wake the Dust as the final film for her PhD exam in January, and we are happy that it has provided us with another opportunity to celebrate a productive year of filmmaking by artists and makers all over the world. It is absolutely beautiful in Cannes, and we have already lined up some exciting meetings with possible collaborators for upcoming projects in 2014-15. Watch this space for pics, videos and film reviews! See you on the Tapis Rouge!
10 FEBRUARY 2013: For the last few weeks, we here at Mazibel have had a lot of irons in the fire. We are currently in development on three projects simultaneously: two in Haiti that are slated for production later this year, and one in the UK that starts production in just two weeks.
Emily has been back in Haiti for the last ten days working with some incredibly talented artists in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince, developing the Art Direction for Passaj Anba Dlo-a or On the Backs of Mermaids – a short film about the passage from life to death as observed by Vodouisants. We have had the great privilege to work with internationally acclaimed Vodou flag maker Myrlande Constant, who has made five unique pieces for us, and to work once again with the artists at Grand Rue – E Pluribus Unum and the Atis-Rezistans – in designing the essential Ghede sequence, featuring Alexi Ducarmel as Bawon Samdi. The artists have made a series of masks for us, which they will wear in the extremely stylized Ghede sequence, showing the dance of Bawon Samdi and his wife Gran Brigitte as they are surrounded by the Ghede – the only lwa or Vodou spirits to have once lived as human beings. They are delightfully creepy, made of broken mirrors, recycled oil containers and car tires, and we think they will contribute a curious edge to the film – referencing as they do the process of spiritual recycling as each person passes through the sixteen phases of life as a human in the Vodou faith.
Emily and long time collaborator Sean Roubens Jean Sacra (Serge to us) have also been in the North of Haiti researching material for our upcoming documentary on Bwa Kayiman, the site of the origin of the Haitian Revolution that lead the slaves imported by the French against their colonial 'masters' to independence, and set a precedent for the rest of the free world to resist the exploitative influences of colonialism, and to break the fetters of slavery. Sadly, one of our key sources and collaborators, Zaza, the Houng’an or Vodou priest in charge of the peristyle at Bwa Kayiman, has recently been imprisoned for reasons that have yet to be made clear. The charges appear to be related to a dispute over land, but there is a more obtuse political undercurrent to his arrest, and its coincidence with the recent amendments to the Haitian constitution that have stripped the rights of Vodouisants and rural landowners to protection under Haitian law. After visiting with Zaza in prison, and discussing the details of his arrest and detention with those involved, we are confident that he will be released and will continue to do good work in maintaining the historic site, and providing the community with a central hub, and we look forward to continue working together once he has been reunited with his family.
While Emily has been in Haiti, Geoffrey has been hard at work organizing our next project, entitled 'The Mawkin' which will take us back to the Kent coast and its shingle beaches, and to some new territory in Suffolk. We are currently in conversation with the National Trust, Suffolk Council, and the Dungeness Estate Trust, strategizing our next shoot. This new project will take us into the abandoned nuclear test site at Orford Ness, where we will combine the mediaeval story of the Merman of Orford with a cautionary tale derived from a Ballardian apocalyptic near-future in which the earth walkers and sea dwellers are at odds with one another once again. We have been lucky enough to work with writer and storyteller Robin Herne on this project.
28 JUNE: We are delighted to announce that Achante will be participating in the 2012 Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal in July. It will be screening after the film L'HYPOTHESE. More details to follow.
JUNE 16: Achante is showing along with the world's best documentaries at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Videotheque. There are many inspirational films and we are grateful to have the opportunity to show along side such great projects.
16 MAY: Mazibel Productions are at the Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage. To arrange a screening of our most recent film, Achante, please contact us. We will be at or around the main pavillion and would be happy to meet and discuss our current and future projects.
10 MAY: Achante received a Special Mention from the Vues d'Afrique festival in Montreal.
"Mention spéciale: Pour nous avoir livré une oeuvre audacieuse avec un point de vue d'auteur sans compromis et néanmoins dénué de tout jugement; une mention spéciale est attribuée à Achanté d'Emily McMehen."
"Special mention: For having delivered an audacious work with a point of view of an author that is without compromise and without judgement; a special mention is given to Achantè."
Recently nominated for Best Young Director at the Festival Vues D’Afrique in Montreal!
We at Mazibel are thrilled about the nomination, and sorry to miss the screening but we had pressing engagements at the BWA Gallery in Wroclaw,
Poland where the show was also screened for a receptive audience in the exhibition “Fleurs de Mal -
New Art from London” curated by Cedar Lewisohn. We were able to send our dear friend, colleague and collaborator Nadine Dominique
to the screening, and show our support for a brilliant festival!
Coming up in May we have Achantè screening at the Festivale de Cannes Court Mètrage so please come and find us for a glass of wine and a quick look! When we return, we will be taking the film to the Sheffield Doc/Fest where we are participating the Videothèque - a great opportunity to be inspired by the doc-savants who are screening new work, and to get some more eyes on the project! This summer we will be screening in Dakar, Cameroon , and Johannesburg with more screenings cropping up all the time, so stay tuned for the next screening near you.