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18 articles


The Good Son, The Piano Teacher and Night Moves: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

15 September 2017 12:11 PM, PDT

When Dave Kehr reviewed director Joseph Ruben’s The Stepfather in The Chicago Tribune on the occasion of its initial theatrical release, he wrote, “Watching The Stepfather, with its near-perfect command of the entire vocabulary of filmmaking, it’s hard to believe that Joseph Ruben isn’t one of the best-known directors working today.” That was over 30 years ago, and while Kehr’s hope that Ruben would be universally recognized as one of the greats never quite came to pass, it should have — the critic was 100% correct in his assessment of Ruben’s mastery. The Stepfather was an extraordinary film, a low-budget […] »

- Jim Hemphill

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“I Think There’s a Parallel Between Gender Politics and Politics of the Land”: Clio Barnard on Her Tiff Premiere, Dark River

15 September 2017 11:07 AM, PDT

UK-based Clio Barnard has impressively transitioned from video artist to acclaimed feature filmmaker in the span of just seven years. After making several short films, her feature debut The Arbor, a hybrid documentary about the late playwright Andrea Dunbar, went on to win a bevy of awards, including London Film Festival’s Best British Newcomer award, Tribeca Film Festival’s Jury Award, British Independent Film Awards’ Douglas Hickox Award, and subsequently a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer. Her second feature The Selfish Giant, loosely based on Oscar Wilde’s children’s story of the same name, also […] »

- Tiffany Pritchard

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“…Much More Truthful and Much More Alienated than Anything I Would Produce Myself”: Jonathan Lethem on Fred Barney Taylor’s Lethem

15 September 2017 10:18 AM, PDT

Last week I was very much looking forward to talking with friend Jonathan Lethem about the new film Lethem, directed by Fred Barney Taylor, which screens at the Metrograph on Sunday, September 17, with the author in attendance. Before that happened though, we both received the news that Michael Friedman had died. A beloved friend and collaborator, Friedman co-founded The Civilians, a theater company where I’m an associate artist. He also wrote the score and lyrics for the musical adaptation of Fortress of Solitude, Lethem’s 2003 novel. Fortress of Solitude tells the story of Lethem’s childhood on Dean Street in […] »

- Alix Lambert

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Tiff Critic’s Notebook 7: The Nothing Factory, Wavelengths Shorts

14 September 2017 11:43 AM, PDT

The very first thing I saw after arriving at Tiff was Pedro Pinho’s The Nothing Factory: a three-hour film is tough to slot into any festival schedule for practical reasons even before you start factoring in day-wearing-on exhaustion, and seeing it as a stand-alone entry point to the fest seemed like the right move. After some establishing facts of a squat silo being torn down and a factory in action, Pinho cuts to a couple having a sex scene. A phone call letting Ze (José Smith Vargas), the male half, know there’s trouble at the workplace intrudes: capitalism as coitus interruptus. […] »

- Vadim Rizov

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“The Line Between Industry and Filmmakers is So Blurry Here”: Previewing the 2017 Camden International Film Festival and Points North Forum

14 September 2017 7:40 AM, PDT

An opening night world premiere, more North American film premieres, an expanded Storyforms Vr section, and the return of its popular Points North Forum are all notable elements of the 2017 Camden Film Festival, which runs today through September 17 across Camden, Rockport and Rockland, Maine. Hot on the heels of Toronto, Ciff is a growing festival that is luring more and more filmmakers as well as funders to take part in discussions about non-fiction in an enviably bucolic environment. “The line between industry and filmmakers is so blurry here,” says Ben Fowlie, Executive Director of the Points North Institute, […] »

- Scott Macaulay

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Finding My Filmmaking Community (Or, I Moved from La to NY to Make Movies — What Was I Thinking?)

14 September 2017 7:00 AM, PDT

Adam Keleman’s humor-laced melodrama Easy Living — about a door-to-door makeup salesman (Hannibal‘s Caroline Dhavernas) — opens tomorrow in New York at the Cinema Village before becoming available on digital platforms Tuesday, September 19. Below, he contributes a guest essay on his path towards becoming a feature filmmaker — a journey that took him from Los Angeles to New York. Los Angeles is an isolating place — and I can say that as a native. I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, that large, sprawling suburb simply known as “The Valley,” memorably featured in such films as […] »

- Adam Keleman

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When Christopher Nolan Met Takanori Iwata: The Director Speaks at Dunkirk‘s Japanese Press Launch

14 September 2017 6:00 AM, PDT

Contrary to popular belief, the Japanese are not totally averse to watching war movies, with Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima and Peter Webber’s Emperor being fairly well-received in recent years. However, those films undoubtedly owed their success to the presence of revered Japanese actors Ken Watanabe and Toshiyuki Nishida, boy-band idol Kazunari Ninomiya and the calmly authoritative Tommy Lee Jones (who is so big over here that he fronts a major coffee brand). Given that Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk offers none of the above, one wondered how the Tokyo media conference, held at the plush Roppongi Hills complex on Thursday […] »

- Chris Gould

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Tiff Critic’s Notebook 6: Brawl in Cell Block 99, Prototype

13 September 2017 2:46 PM, PDT

S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 replicates the structure and mutations of his first film, Bone Tomahawk, a realistic Western that expands into a gorefest with inflections of Mad Max. Likewise, Brawl begins as a fairly low-key thriller (minus the part in which Vince Vaughn dismantles nearly half a car with his bare hands) that continuously ratchets up the bloodiness in uncreasingly unreal settings. Zahler’s definitely a gore enthusiast, which isn’t really my thing: it doesn’t particularly bother me, but I’d just as soon not deal with it. But, like Jeremy Saulnier, gore is what enables what I’ve liked about his work: Tomahawk […] »

- Vadim Rizov

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“You Plan to Make a Film and Then You Try Not to Make the Film You Planned on Making”: Jake Mahaffy on Free in Deed

13 September 2017 1:55 PM, PDT

Filmmaker readers first encountered the singular cinema of Jake Mahaffy back in 2005, when we placed him on our “25 New Faces” list on the basis of his extraordinary, Tarkovsky-esqure War, a post-collapse saga shot on a handcranked camera (and made years before post-collapse films and television became suddenly fashionable). On the basis of that film and the two features that have followed — including his latest, Free in Deed, currently in theaters (in New York, it’s playing Cinema Village) — Mahaffy has, in my opinion, staked out a quiet reputation as one of our most accomplished and necessary of […] »

- Scott Macaulay

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Nicole Kidman and Ed Lachman to Receive Tributes at the 2017 Ifp Gotham Awards

13 September 2017 11:12 AM, PDT

Nicole Kidman, in the midst of an extraordinary year of well-received performances, and legendary Dp Ed Lachman, whose latest Todd Haynes collaboration is due for release in November, were announced today as the latest 2017 Gotham Award Tribute recipients. “It is truly an honor to present Nicole Kidman with the Actress Tribute this year,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of Ifp and the Made in New York Media Center, in a statement. “Her choices in projects throughout her career have been bold and carefully selected, ranging from thought-provoking independent films and studio blockbusters to unique and original television series. She […] »

- Scott Macaulay

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Should Filmmakers Tour Their Work Like Bands Tour Their Albums?

13 September 2017 9:00 AM, PDT

Since I started working in film ten years ago I’ve been fascinated by the creative possibilities of distribution. Filmmakers tend to think of releasing their film primarily as homework: the creative work is over and now the boring part begins: booking theaters, organizing print traffic, getting your film onto the right platforms online, generating press, and perhaps toughest of all — convincing anyone out there to actually care about what you made. It can be a boatload of labor, and a lot of it is administrative and connection-based. It’s no wonder that most filmmakers prefer to outsource distribution to companies […] »

- Dan Schoenbrun

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“Nazareth is a Violent City… But It’s also Hilarious”: Director Annemarie Jacir on Wajib

13 September 2017 7:00 AM, PDT

Annemarie Jacir’s third film, Wajib, a wry comedy set in the run up to Christmas in Nazareth, premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival before heading to, this week Tiff. The film pairs legendary Arabic actors Mohammed and Saleh Bakri together in a movie for the first time. Naturally, the father and son play father and son. Saleh, who has appeared in all three films directed by Jacir, plays Rome-based Shadi, who is returning to Nazareth after a period away for the wedding of his sister Amal (Maria Zreik). In keeping with Palestinian tradition, Shadi, alongside his divorced father, […] »

- Kaleem Aftab

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Tiff Critic’s Notebook 5: The Disaster Artist, Plonger

12 September 2017 2:11 PM, PDT

James Franco has been annoying a lot of people, myself included, for a variety of reasons, not least his relentless direction of a shocking number of movies, most quite poorly received: if I’m counting the credits on his IMDb page right, The Disaster Artist is his 16th feature since 2005 — not precisely Fred Olen Ray levels of shoddy productivity, but not that far off either. For easily his most mainstream effort (and, full disclosure, the only one I’ve seen), Franco films the saga of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s infamous cult movie The Room. I’m not much of a so-bad-it’s-good consumer, […] »

- Vadim Rizov

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“Women Are Often Seen as a Risk while Men are an Investment”: Ingrid Veninger on Porcupine Lake and her pUNK Films Femmes Labs

12 September 2017 8:00 AM, PDT

Porcupine Lake is the sixth feature from pUNK Films founder Ingrid Veninger. It’s also the first from the pUNK Films Femmes Labs, which started as a Diy idea of gathering six Canadian female filmmakers to work on their six screenplays for six months to reality — courtesy of Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, who happened to hear Veninger’s pitch for funding at the Whistler Film Festival and immediately sign on as sponsor. The film itself feels like a throwback to the early heady (not to mention pre-tech, as there’s not a smartphone-glued character in sight!) days of low-key/low-budget independent film. It’s a […] »

- Lauren Wissot

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Fighting Ms and Big Pharma: Matt Embry on Living Proof

12 September 2017 7:00 AM, PDT

A journey both personal and political, Matt Embry’s Living Proof follows the Canadian filmmaker on his quixotic quest to get some answers to a medical mystery. If no one knows the causes or cures for multiple sclerosis, then why are so many Ms charities touting drugs (with considerable side effects) that don’t work in the long term? And why does the Fda drag its feet on approving promising non-pharmaceutical cures? And why won’t the powers that be in the Ms establishment listen to the director himself, diagnosed with the disease over two decades ago, and who through only strict diet […] »

- Lauren Wissot

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“I’m Tired of this Appropriation of Stories by Filmmakers from the West:”: Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw on Cocaine Prison

11 September 2017 1:42 PM, PDT

Part of Ifp’s 2013 Project Forum slate, Cocaine Prison is the latest completed work from indigenous Latina filmmaker Violeta Ayala, who’s long been an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs, which not only disproportionately affects low-income folks here in the States, but especially our impoverished neighbors south of the border, from Mexico on down. For this follow-up to 2015’s The Bolivian Case (another tale of South American coke smuggling and its consequences, but with a Norwegian teenagers twist), Ayala, along with filmmaker partner/husband Dan Fallshaw (a producer, cinematographer and editor on Cocaine Prison), have headed back to her birth […] »

- Lauren Wissot

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Sony’s Two New Cameras: Venice and RX0

11 September 2017 12:30 PM, PDT

Sony has announced two new cameras that will be of interest to filmmakers, though because they are so different it’s entirely possible that you might have heard of one and not the other. Sony Venice At the high-end, Sony has announced its new flagship camera, the Venice. Note that Sony does the name in all-caps, though it doesn’t appear to be an acronym. Sony first hinted at this camera back in June. It has a newly developed 36x24mm full-frame sensor and is their first CineAlta digital camera to have a full-frame sensor. It has several other notable features including: 15 […] »

- Michael Murie

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Tiff Critic’s Notebook 4: 3/4, Faces Places

11 September 2017 12:14 PM, PDT

Ilian Metev’s deliberately small-scale, extremely precise 3/4 puts a trio of non-actors through their fictional paces. The family unit: teen classical pianist Mila (Mila Mihova), preparing for an audition that, if all goes well, will let her continue her studies in Germany; oft-annoying younger brother Niki (Nikolay Mashalov); physicist dad Todor (Todor Veltchev). (Mom is unseen: I’m the umpteenth to note that the title is both a time signature and way of noting that three out of four family members are present.) Mila’s stress over this impending potential pivot point in her life is transferred onto father and son, who react in different ways. […] »

- Vadim Rizov

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18 articles



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