Film Reviews

Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) and the phenomenon of American film noir

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2015

Turner Classic Movies, the US cable and satellite television network, presented Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) at selected theaters on July 19 and 20.

R.W. Fassbinder at 70: the German filmmaker’s life on display in Berlin

By Hiram Lee, 23 July 2015

An exhibition at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau pays tribute to German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the seventieth anniversary of his birth.

What Happened, Miss Simone?: The life of African-American singer, pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone

By Helen Hayes and Fred Mazelis, 22 July 2015

Simone did not so much move between different genres—jazz, gospel, blues and folk—as combine them into her own unique and powerful style.

Manglehorn and The Cobbler: The influence of social-gravitational forces

By David Walsh, 13 July 2015

The two films, Manglehorn, directed by David Gordon Green, and The Cobbler, directed by Tom McCarthy, both fall into the independent drama, or comedy-drama category.

The Face of an Angel and Danny Collins: A notorious murder trial and an aging musician

By Joanne Laurier, 10 July 2015

The Face of an Angel is a fictional treatment of the Amanda Knox murder trial. Danny Collins is the story of a rock star who changes his life after receiving a letter that John Lennon wrote him decades earlier.

Terminator Genisys and the trajectory of American “independent” filmmaking

By David Walsh, 8 July 2015

A number of the independent filmmakers of the 1990s and early 2000s have found their way, like Alan Taylor, to one or another blockbuster franchise.

NBC’s American Odyssey: Mercenaries, jihadists and Machiavellian US corporations

By Christine Schofelt, 6 July 2015

American Odyssey, cancelled after the first season, exhibited some good intentions, but ultimately familiar confusion.

The Wolfpack, Dope: American experiences, oddities

By Joanne Laurier, 3 July 2015

The Wolfpack is a documentary about seven children who were locked away for many years in an apartment in a public housing project in Manhattan.

The Apu Trilogy: “Art wedded to truth must, in the end, have its rewards”

By Richard Phillips, 29 June 2015

Indian director Satyajit Ray’s cinematic masterwork, The Apu Trilogy has been meticulously restored by Janus Films and is currently screening in North American cinemas.

Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By David Walsh, 24 June 2015

The film was made during a run of Taymor’s version of Shakespeare’s play at the Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn in 2013-14.

Jurassic World, summer blockbuster

By Christine Schofelt, 23 June 2015

Though largely formulaic, the film is not without its charms and touches on some interesting questions—albeit lightly.

La loi du marché (The Measure of a Man): An attempt at a drama of the French working class

By Antoine Lerougetel, 20 June 2015

Fifty-one-year-old Thierry, who has lost his job in a factory closure, urgently tries to find work since his unemployment benefit will soon run out.

Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young: No need to fight

By Christine Schofelt, 17 June 2015

Riddled with generational stereotypes, While We’re Young pleads the case against intellectual honesty in favor of “personal fulfillment.”

Mad Max: Fury Road: A “feminist” demolition derby

By Kevin Martinez, 15 June 2015

The fourth film in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max franchise, Fury Road is a brutal and depressing experience, despite the positive comments from various critics.

Orson Welles symposium at University of Michigan

By David Walsh, 13 June 2015

The University of Michigan’s library is the home of the largest assortment of Orson Welles archival papers and documents in the world.

A new film version of Far from the Madding Crowd; Brian Wilson’s story in Love & Mercy

By Joanne Laurier, 12 June 2015

Set in rural England in the 1870s, Far from the Madding Crowd is the story of a free-spirited young woman who attracts three suitors of diverse social and psychological make-up.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent—More talent and resources squandered

By Christine Schofelt, 30 May 2015

Any attempt at building a thoughtful story has been abandoned in favor of a special effects bonanza, leaving one to ask: Where is this heading?

Alex Garland’s Ex Machina: Will artificial intelligence replace human efforts?

By Dorota Niemitz, 20 May 2015

Ex Machina is an elegant and thought-provoking science fiction thriller that considers the future of humanity in relation to the rapid developments in computer science technology.

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

By David Walsh, 15 May 2015

We now know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end.

The Gunman, Sean Penn’s attack on WikiLeaks and related matters

By David Walsh, 15 April 2015

Penn’s views and activities are worth considering, especially in the light of his recent disgraceful comments about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Cymbeline: Michael Almereyda returns to Shakespeare

By David Walsh, 11 April 2015

Michael Almereyda, who previously directed a version of Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke, has turned to one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, with intelligent results.

Harun Farocki’s Labour in a Single Shot in Berlin: An exhibition of films about working people

By Hiram Lee, 9 April 2015

The final project of German filmmaker Harun Farocki (1944-2014) brings together dozens of short films about working people.

FICUNAM 2015: Part 4

Tackling life head on: The films of Uzbek-Soviet director Ali Khamraev

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 28 March 2015

One of the genuine contributions of the recent FICUNAM film festival in Mexico City was its presentation of the works of veteran film director Ali Khamraev.

FICUNAM 2015

I Remember You: A comment on the history of his film by director Ali Khamraev

28 March 2015

Filmmaker Ali Khamraev explains the difficulties surrounding the making of his remarkable film I Remember You in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

FICUNAM 2015: Part 3

Pedro Costa’s Horse Money, Jean-Marie Straub’s “leftism” and other problems

By David Walsh, 25 March 2015

The recent FICUNAM festival in Mexico City screened a number of films which, while not belonging to a single school by any means, provide the opportunity for something of a generalized overview.

Chappie: Is the sum greater than the parts?

By Christine Schofelt, 21 March 2015

Neill Blomkamp’s latest release presents an oddly sweet, if rather violent, tale, but something is missing.

FICUNAM 2015: Part 2

The rule and the exceptions—three good films: Court, National Gallery and The Gold Bug

By David Walsh, 20 March 2015

There are filmmakers who devote themselves seriously and conscientiously to representing life, not life in the abstract, not “life as a river,” but concrete life, the life of social classes and relationships.

FICUNAM 2015: Part 1

A remarkable film festival in Mexico City

By David Walsh, 18 March 2015

David Walsh and Joanne Laurier recently attended the film festival associated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City.

65th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4

Every Thing Will Be Fine from Wim Wenders, Taxi from Jafar Panahi, and other films

By Hiram Lee, 27 February 2015

New films from veteran German director Wim Wenders and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi were screened at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

87th Academy Awards: A more intriguing event than in recent years

By David Walsh, 24 February 2015

Social and political realities found expression on Sunday in a manner that accords with the film world’s peculiarities and contradictions.

The upcoming Academy Awards: Selma, American Sniper and other issues

By David Walsh, 21 February 2015

If recent ceremonies are anything to go by, Sunday’s event will be thoroughly scripted and lacking in spontaneity.

The Two Faces of January: Three Americans joined together by crime

By David Walsh, 16 February 2015

Set in Greece in the early 1960s, Iranian-born director Hossein Amini’s film, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, follows a trio of Americans caught up in a series of increasingly traumatic events.

The Water Diviner: Russell Crowe’s contribution to the WWI centenary

By Richard Phillips, 14 February 2015

The movie dovetails with the Australian government’s reactionary promotion of the war centenary and the Gallipoli incursion.

Wild and Black or White: Social problems, but the solutions?

By Joanne Laurier, 11 February 2015

Wild tells the true story of one woman’s 1,100-mile hike of self-discovery. Black or White recounts a custody battle between the white maternal grandfather and black paternal grandmother of a seven-year-old girl.

Leviathan: A latter-day Job

By Dorota Niemitz and David Walsh, 6 February 2015

Oscar-nominated Leviathan is a dark tale about an individual struggling against the power of the state in contemporary Russia.

The Humbling: An actor who can no longer act

By David Walsh, 5 February 2015

In Barry Levinson’s film, based on a Philip Roth novel, an aging stage actor, who has lost the appetite for performing, encounters a younger woman with interesting consequences.

The controversy surrounding American Sniper

By David Walsh, 31 January 2015

The campaign in defense of Clint Eastwood’s film is the latest means by which the political and media establishment in the US is promoting its war-mongering agenda.

Inherent Vice: Thomas Pynchon’s novel adapted for the screen

By David Walsh, 28 January 2015

Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, his seventh feature, is based on the 2009 novel of the same name by well-known American writer Thomas Pynchon.

Mr. Turner brings the great painter to life

By Fred Mazelis, 27 January 2015

Timothy Spall gives a powerful performance as the complicated genius who had such a lasting impact on the history of painting.

American Sniper: A wolf in sheep dog’s clothing

By Matthew MacEgan, 24 January 2015

Clint Eastwood’s newest film tells the story of Chris Kyle, reputedly the deadliest marksman in US military history.

Doctor Who turns toward militarism

By Bryan Dyne and Christine Schofelt, 9 January 2015

Christmas 2014 marked the end of the eighth season of the rebooted British science fiction television series and the first season featuring Peter Capaldi in the title role.

Unbroken: Mediocre Hollywood fare in the service of … what exactly?

By Charles Bogle, 7 January 2015

Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 non-fiction work about Louie Zamperini’s harrowing experience in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II.

15th Tokyo Filmex—Part 2

Life in modern Tokyo, and life during the two world wars: Kabukicho Love Hotel, Tsili and Theeb

By John Watanabe, 5 January 2015

Kabukicho Love Hotel is the latest film by Japanese director Ryuichi Hiroki. Amos Gitai’s Tsili takes place during World War II, and Naji Abu Nowar’s Theeb during the First World War.

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes: Kitsch has never helped anyone yet

By Joanne Laurier, 3 January 2015

Tim Burton’s new film Big Eyes tells the story of Margaret Keane, the American artist who created the “big-eye art” that became a mass marketing sensation in the 1960s.

Best films of 2014

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 30 December 2014

Some interesting films opened in North America in 2014, a greater number than in many recent years. At the same time, sections of the film industry associated themselves more than ever with the American state.

The latest blockbuster from CIA Pictures: The Interview

By Andre Damon and David Walsh, 29 December 2014

It is entirely fitting that The Interview has been embraced by the Obama administration as the vehicle of the values it represents.

Foxcatcher: Under the thumb of a wealthy madman

By Joanne Laurier, 23 December 2014

Bennett Miller’s film is based on events that culminated in the shocking 1996 murder of an Olympic wrestling champion by the multimillionaire scion, John Eleuthère du Pont, of the American chemical dynasty.

15th Tokyo Filmex—Part 1

The Prince and A Few Cubic Meters of Love: Two films about Iran and Afghanistan

By John Watanabe, 17 December 2014

The Prince, the better of the pair of films, is a “docu-fiction” about the life journey of Jalil Nazari, an Afghan refugee in Iran, who subsequently applied for asylum in Germany.

Under the Skin (or aliens from another social class) and Mood Indigo (more inventiveness from Michel Gondry)

By David Walsh, 16 December 2014

Under the Skin is loosely adapted from Michael Faber’s 2000 science fiction novel. Mood Indigo is based on French writer Boris Vian’s famed 1947 novel, L’ Écume des jours.

Devil’s Knot, The Congress, The Giver and The Last Sentence: A few of this year’s films

By Joanne Laurier, 15 December 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, the WSWS will comment on a number of films that were released in North America and, in some cases, globally in the course of the past 12 months.

Whiplash: Heaping scorn on mediocrity

By Joanne Laurier, 4 December 2014

A young drummer at an elite music conservatory becomes the protégé of an abusive instructor who believes artistic genius is formed by sheer force of will.

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking’s life, or parts of it, on film

By Walter Gilberti, 2 December 2014

Stephen Hawking has over the years become a familiar personage to millions. A brilliant physicist and cosmologist, Hawking’s nearly life-long battle with disease has become the stuff of legend.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar: A mess in space

By Marcelo Arias Souto, 29 November 2014

Interstellar takes place in a dystopian near future, when dust storms are destroying crops and threatening to leave the planet without food.

Night Will Fall: A powerful depiction of Nazi atrocities

By Paul Mitchell, 26 November 2014

Night Will Fall explains the making of a remarkable work, the “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey”, which depicted the terrible crimes of the Holocaust in a ground-breaking and accurate manner.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1: More battle scenes and bloodshed—to what end?

By Christine Schofelt, 24 November 2014

With the third film in the Hunger Games series, the phenomenon is wearing increasingly thin.

Jon Stewart’s Rosewater: Fatal sins of omission

By Joanne Laurier, 21 November 2014

Stewart, host of The Daily Show, has written and directed a film treating the Iranian government’s incarceration and torture of a London-based, Iranian-born journalist in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 presidential election.

Distortion and dishonesty: Ukrainian films at the Cottbus Film Festival

By Stefan Steinberg, 20 November 2014

The Festival of East European Cinema in Cottbus, Germany has been an annual event since 1991.

Anderson: Artists and the Stasi in Stalinist East Germany

By Bernd Reinhardt, 12 November 2014

Annekatrin Hendel’s documentary focuses on Sascha Anderson, an artist and spy for the Stalinist secret police.

Fury: What is “realism”? What is an “anti-war” film?

By David Walsh, 1 November 2014

David Ayer’s morbid and militarist film follows an American tank crew, led by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt), in the final days of World War II in Europe.

Three darkish comedies: Birdman, The Skeleton Twins and St. Vincent

By Joanne Laurier, 30 October 2014

Birdman deals with the washed-up star of a super-hero franchise. The Skeleton Twins portrays two siblings trying to overcome a painful psychological legacy. St. Vincent features a misanthropic Vietnam veteran who forms a life-changing attachment.

Pride: The UK miners’ strike through the distorted mirror of identity politics

By Robert Stevens, 29 October 2014

Matthew Warchus’ film about the 1984-85 conflict has been well received in Britain and was the third highest-grossing release on its opening weekend.

David Fincher’s Gone Girl: The lady vanishes

By Marcelo Arias Souto, 22 October 2014

Gone Girl wants to be a psychological study, a black comedy about the upper middle class, a social critique and a satire of media sensationalism. A few aspects are intriguing, even accomplished.

Citizenfour documentary on Edward Snowden premieres in UK and US

By Robert Stevens, 20 October 2014

Speaking of the NSA and the intelligence apparatus, Snowden asserts, in Laura Poitras’ documentary, “We are building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.”

The Gary Webb story in Kill the Messenger: Shedding light on CIA criminality and conspiracy

By Joanne Laurier, 17 October 2014

Michael Cuesta’s film tells the story of the journalist whose 1996 investigative series, “Dark Alliance,” uncovered ties between the Central Intelligence Agency and massive drug peddling by the right-wing Nicaraguan Contras.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 6

Tigers and global corporate criminality: “We’ve got a really bad system”

By David Walsh, 15 October 2014

Danis Tanović’s new film focuses on a scandal that stretches back at least four decades—the marketing of infant formula to women in poor countries, which has caused untold suffering and death.

The legacy of postwar Polish filmmaker Andrzej Munk

By Dorota Niemitz, 13 October 2014

Munk, part of a generation of Eastern European artists struggling to deal with the postwar situation, was able to create a humane and authentic portrait of his times.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 5

99 Homes, Shelter and harsh American realities: Filmmakers inch their way toward important truths

Director Ramin Bahrani: “The villain is the system”

By Joanne Laurier, 10 October 2014

99 Homes deals with the foreclosure and eviction crisis, Shelter with the homeless. Also screened was a documentary about a Mexican citizen 30 years on death row, The Years of Fierro.

Snowpiercer: A new ice age and its consequences

By Muhammad Khan, 8 October 2014

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film tackles environmental catastrophe and social revolution.

The Boxtrolls: A cartoonish glimpse of class society

By Zaida Green, 6 October 2014

An underclass of trolls takes on the wealthy and corrupt White Hats in the new animated film from Laika, the Oregon-based studio.

Calvary: An Irish priest threatened for another’s crimes

By Christine Schofelt, 4 October 2014

In the opening scene, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) takes confession from an unseen man who recounts being sexually abused by a priest as a child, and informs James he is going to kill him “Sunday week.”

Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 4

Iraqi Odyssey and other pictures of the modern world

By David Walsh, 2 October 2014

The film, directed by Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir, attempts to interweave the complex saga of the director’s own family with the larger history of Iraq over the past half-century or more.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 3

Drone warfare in Good Kill

and a roundtable interview with writer-director Andrew Niccol and actor Ethan Hawke

By David Walsh, 26 September 2014

New Zealand-born writer-director Andrew Niccol has taken on the subject of drone warfare in Good Kill, featuring Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, Zoë Kravitz and January Jones.

Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 2

Phoenix and Labyrinth of Lies: German history and other complex questions

By Joanne Laurier, 24 September 2014

Christian Petzold’s Phoenix and Italian-born Giulio Ricciarelli’s Labyrinth of Lies are both skillfully made, intelligent films that delve, in quite different ways, into the legacy of German fascism.

Grave of the Fireflies: Two children fighting for survival in wartime Japan

By Elle Chapman, 22 September 2014

Produced over 25 years ago, the Japanese animation feature is a unique and emotionally intense story set in Kobe during the last months of World War II.

Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight: Keeping life at a distance

By David Walsh, 22 August 2014

A famed illusionist (Colin Firth) is brought in to expose a young clairvoyant (Emma Stone), but instead begins to have doubts about his own rationalistic world-view.

Rich Hill: A story that “could be told in hundreds of towns”

By Joanne Laurier, 20 August 2014

The documentary, directed by cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, movingly chronicles the lives of three boys living in an impoverished, rural southwestern Missouri town.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood: American lives over the course of a dozen years

By David Walsh, 19 August 2014

Using the same cast, the writer-director filmed sequences once a year for twelve years, centering on a boy, his family and their surroundings in east and central Texas.

Lucy: A little knowledge is apparently a dangerous thing

By Hiram Lee, 16 August 2014

In Lucy, Scarlett Johansson is a super-powered intellect fighting to take down a Taiwanese drug cartel.

Get On Up: The James Brown story

By Joanne Laurier, 14 August 2014

Tate Taylor’s film biography attempts with considerable success to penetrate the James Brown phenomenon. As the famed American singer-performer, Chadwick Boseman is mesmerizing.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or Yawn of the Planet of the Apes

By Kevin Martinez, 4 August 2014

The original Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, was fairly silly, but it was not mean-spirited and had a certain humor to it.

Lost for Life: Children locked away in America

By Joanne Laurier, 28 July 2014

The film’s web site reports the staggering, and scandalous, fact that more than “2,000 people in the US are serving life-without-parole sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.”

The Kill Team: The murderous reality of the US war in Afghanistan

By Joanne Laurier, 26 July 2014

The “Kill Team,” the nickname applied by the media to members of a US army unit that committed war crimes in Afghanistan, is also the title of the film by documentarian Dan Krauss.

Below the surface of Louis Theroux’s LA Stories: City of Dogs

By Charles Thorpe and Norisa Diaz, 23 July 2014

Theroux’s new three-part series provides glimpses of the social crisis in Los Angeles, but the documentarian’s approach prevents him from probing very deeply.

Prasanna Vithanage’s With You, Without You: The human impact of Sri Lanka’s communal war

By Wasantha Rupasinghe and Panini Wijesiriwardane, 14 July 2014

Vithanage’s film is a serious artistic effort and reveals how the decades-long communal war affected human relationships.

HBO’s Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr. and Ida

By Joanne Laurier, 10 July 2014

The 40-minute documentary on the postwar American painter Robert De Niro, Sr. is a delicate and moving homage, in which his son, the actor Robert De Niro, figures prominently.

A student’s perspective on the testing culture in America’s schools

Movie Review: LISTEN — the Film, by Ankur Singh

By Phyllis Scherrer, 4 July 2014

A review of Ankur Singh’s documentary on the impact of high-stakes testing on students.

Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys: The story of The Four Seasons on screen

By Joanne Laurier, 27 June 2014

Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort is a film version of the popular musical that premiered on Broadway in 2005 and revived interest in the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Entre Nos (Between US) and Red Father: Aspects of US life and history

By Joanne Laurier, 23 June 2014

Entre Nos dramatizes the plight of a Colombian immigrant and her two children in New York City. Red Father, a documentary, recounts the life and career of Bernard Ades, a lawyer and longtime member of the Communist Party.

Netflix’s Orange is the New Black: Humanity inside a US women’s prison

By Ed Hightower, 20 June 2014

The television series, based on the experiences of a former inmate, takes a generally serious and realistic look—something terribly rare on American television—at the prison population in the US.

A great Soviet film about World War II

No more war! The anti-war message of The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

By Dorota Niemitz, 19 June 2014

The film is a story about two young people, Boris and Veronica, who are in love and plan to get married. Their plans are postponed when the German army invades the USSR in 1941.

A further comment on The Cranes Are Flying

By Wolfgang Weber, 19 June 2014

The Cranes Are Flying was a great success in East and West Germany, as it was in the Soviet Union.

So Bright is the View: A serious film from Romania

By David Walsh, 4 June 2014

Estera, a middle class Jewish girl in Bucharest, has to make a choice between pursuing a job in Atlanta, working for a nouveau riche thug, or joining her mother in Israel.

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

Film portrait of an American radical iconoclast

By Fred Mazelis, 2 June 2014

The newly released documentary on the life of writer and social critic Gore Vidal has much to recommend it.

Utopia: A confronting but politically flawed documentary

By Susan Allan, 31 May 2014

John Pilger presents a stark picture of Aboriginal disadvantage and oppression but blames racism, not capitalism.

Belle’s moving and enlightened story (and The Immigrant)

By Joanne Laurier, 30 May 2014

Amma Asante’s film recounts the remarkable 18th century story of Dido Belle, a mixed-race girl who ends up in the care of William Murray, England’s lord chief justice. James Gray’s The Immigrant is set in New York in 1921.

“Are they going to throw him away?”

Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse

By Christine Schofelt, 28 May 2014

Brian Lindstrom’s powerful documentary provides an unblinking look at police brutality in Portland, Oregon and deserves a wide audience.

San Francisco International Film Festival 2014

Part four: Manos Sucias, Freedom Summer and others: Bitter social conflict present and past

By Joanne Laurier, 26 May 2014

A film about Colombia, a short conversation with its director, and a documentary about the civil rights movement in the 1960s, among other things.

Orson Welles: An “unfinished artist” in an unfinished century

Event marks 80 years since theater festival in Woodstock, Illinois

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014

Welles remains one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the cinema and theater in the 20th century.

Interviews with critics and film historians about Orson Welles

By David Walsh and Joanne Laurier, 23 May 2014

During the recent celebration in Woodstock, Illinois, commemorating 80 years since the Todd Theatre Festival organized by Orson Welles, we had the opportunity to speak to a number of the presenters and participants.