2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound’

April 29, 2019

by Carla Hay

Making Waves
“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” interviewee Walter Murch re-recording mixing of “Apocalypse Now” (Photo by W.S. Murch)

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound”

Directed by Midge Costin

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 29, 2019.

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” is the type of documentary that is best seen in a movie theater, where the film’s impressive sound editing and sound mixing can be best appreciated.  It’s also the kind of documentary that some might consider too technical for their tastes, but it’s a must-see for cinephiles, film students or anyone who cares to find out more about the history of sound in film.

The movie does a quick run-through of the transition between silent films and “talkies” to get to the heart of the film—the movies and filmmakers who’ve had the most influence on today’s cinematic experiences. Like a classroom presentation at a film school, “Making Waves” takes a somewhat academic approach in describing the different components of sound in cinema. And that’s probably because “Make Waves” director Midge Costin is an Oscar-nominated sound editor who’s also a professor of sound at USC Film School. The movie divides the discussion intro three categories: voice, sound effects and music. In the voice category are production recording, dialogue editing and ADR (automated dialog replacement). In the sound effects category are SFX, Foley and ambience.

“Making Waves” also interviews many of the top filmmakers in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuarón, Sofia Coppola, Ang Lee, Ryan Coogler, Robert Redford, David Lynch and Barbra Streisand. Sound designers/editors interviewed in the documentary Walter Murch (a longtime collaborator with Francis Ford Coppola), Ben Burtt (a favorite of George Lucas), Bobbi Banks (“The Fate of the Furious,” “Straight Outta Compton”), Anna Behlmer (“Moulin Rouge!”, 2009’s “Star Trek”) and Gary Rydstrom, who’s worked on numerous Steven Spielberg movies.

The documentary takes the position that sound in cinema really began to hit its stride in the 1970s, with movies like “The Godfather” and “Star Wars.” There are several movies that are singled out for their pioneering sound. The 1976 version  of “A Star Is Born” is credited with being the first to fully utilize stereo effects in sound editing. Streisand, who starred in the movie and was one of the film’s producers, tells a story in “Making Waves” about how she had to pay $1 million of her own money for the sound, and Warner Bros. Pictures ended up being so impressed with the movie’s sound quality that the movie studio ended up covering the $1 million cost.

Coppola’s 1979 masterpiece “Apocalypse Now” pioneered surround sound, while 1995’s “Toy Story” is considered a breakthrough animated film for sound. Other movies whose sound is given a spotlight in “Making Waves” include “Jurassic Park,” “Argo,” “Top Gun,” “Selma,” “Inception,” “Ordinary People,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “A River Runs Through It.” As for music in movies, the Beatles are credited with being pioneers on screen, as well as being major influences on filmmakers who were fans of the band. “Making Waves” also has interviews with famous composers such as Hans Zimmer and Ludwig Goransson, who gives a demonstration of how he crafted his Oscar-winning score for “Black Panther.”

Although a few of the people interviewed in “Making Waves” come across as bit dull, “Making Waves” is still worth seeing for the way it gives valuable history lessons in cinema. Just don’t watch this movie on a phone or a computer, or you’ll be missing out on the full sound experience of the movie and the reason why this documentary exists.

UPDATE: “Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” opens in New York City and Los Angeles on October 25, 2019. The movie expands to more cities in the U.S. and Canada, beginning November 1, 2019.

2018 Venice International Film Festival: ‘Roma’ wins the Golden Lion top prize

September 8, 2018

Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival logo

“Roma,” director Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply personal drama inspired by his childhood in Mexico, was awarded the Golden Lion (the top prize) at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy. The 75th annual Venice International Film Festival took place from August 29 to September 8, 2018. “Roma” is the first Netflix film to win a top prize at a major film festival. The movie’s release date is to be announced. “Roma” is Cuarón’s first film since his 2013 outer-space drama “Gravity,” which went on to win seven Oscars, including Best Director for Cuarón. “Gravity” also premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2013, but the movie was screened out of competition.

Other winners at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival included Willem Dafoe (who plays Vincent Van Gogh) in “At Eternity’s Gate” for Best Actor; Olivia Colman (who plays Queen Anne in “The Favourite”) for Best Actress; and “The Sisters Brothers” helmer Jacques Audiard for Best Director.

Here is the complete list of winners for the 2018 Venice International Film Festival:

IN COMPETITION

Golden Lion: “Roma,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Silver Lion for Best Director: Jacques Audiard, “The Sisters Brothers”

Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Best Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Special Jury Prize: “The Nightingale” Jennifer Kent

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Performer: Baykali Ganambarr “The Nightingale”

HORIZONS (ORIZZONTI)

Best Film: “Manta Ray,” Phuttiphong Aroonpheng

Best Director: Emir Baigazin, “The River”

Special Jury Prize: “The Announcement,” Mahmut Fazil Coskun

Best Actress: Natalya Kudryashova “The Man Who Surprised Everyone”

Best Actor: Kais Nashif “Tel Aviv on Fire”

Best Screenplay: “Jinpa,” Pema Tseden

Best Short Film: “Kado,” Aditya Ahmad

LION OF THE FUTURE

Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut Film: “The Day I Lost My Shadow,” Soudade Kaadan, Syria

VENICE CLASSICS

Best Documentary on Cinema:  “The Great Buster: A Celebration,” Peter Bogdanovich

Best Restored Film: “The Night of the Shooting Stars,” Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

VIRTUAL REALITY COMPETITION

Best Virtual Reality: 
“Spheres,” Eliza McNitt

Best Virtual Reality Experience: “Buddy VR,” Chuck Chae

Best Virtual Reality Story: “Isle of the Dead,” Benjamin Nuel

2018 New York Film Festival: ‘Roma’ announced as centerpiece film

July 18, 2018

Alfonso Cuarón and Yalitza Aparicio on the set of "Roma"
Alfonso Cuarón and Yalitza Aparicio on the set of “Roma” (Photo by Carlos Somonte/Netflix)

The following is a press release from the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA as Centerpiece of the 56th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 14), making its New York premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, October 5, 2018. Produced by Esperanto Filmoj and Participant Media, ROMA is a Netflix release and will launch globally and in theaters later this year.

Secure your seat at Centerpiece with a Festival Pass.

In Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film, set in Mexico City in the early ’70s, we are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of ROMA is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. Shot in breathtaking black and white and featuring a sound design that represents something new in the medium, ROMA is a truly visionary work.

New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “I was absolutely stunned by ROMA from beginning to end—by the craftsmanship and the artistry of everyone involved, by the physical power and gravitational force of the images, by the realization that I was seeing something magical: a story of ongoing life grounded within the immensity and mystery of just being here on this planet. Alfonso Cuarón’s film is a wonder.”

“I am honored ROMA has been selected for the Centerpiece slot at this year’s New York Film Festival,” said Cuarón. “NYFF has a longstanding history of celebrating meaningful and compelling filmmaking and it felt right to return to the festival with ROMA—an incredibly personal, illuminating, and transformative project for me.”

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FSLC Associate Director of Programming.

Tickets for the 56th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 9. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Centerpiece.


The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Shutterstock, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Support for the New York Film Festival is generously provided by Official Partners HBO® and The New York Times, Benefactor Partners Dolby and illy caffè, Supporting Partners Warby Parker, MUBI, and Manhattan Portage, and Hospitality Partner Hudson Hotel. JCDecaux, Variety, Deadline Hollywood, WABC-7, WNET New York Public Media, and The Village Voice serve as Media Sponsors.