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When Trey Edward Shults was 18 years old, he went to Hawaii for the summer to stay with his aunt Krisha – yes, the same Krisha who starred in his 2016 breakout “Krisha.” His aunt was connected to small filmmaking community on the island and got her nephew jobs working on commercials and other productions.
Read More: ‘It Comes at Night’: Why A24 Took a Gamble on a New Filmmaker’s Ambitious Horror Vision
“I lucked out and got on this Terrence Malick movie,” said Shults when he was guest on IndeWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. The small crew, sans Malick, was shooting footage of a volcano for the documentary “Voyage of Time.”
“It was five guys with an IMAX camera,” said Shults. “I loved movies, but I didn’t know how they were made, really. I didn’t even get what the guy [the film loader] in the changing bag with the film was »
- Chris O'Falt
Sam Esmail’s paranoid fictional world of hackers, the FBI and one all too powerful corporation has struck a cord with the devoted fans of “Mr. Robot,” but the show has also become known for being oddly prescient since it first premiered two summers ago. It’s therefore natural to speculate whether Season 3 (currently in production) will be impacted by the election of President Trump – and the idea that Russia “hacked” the United States election – especially considering that Esmail hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinions about the 45th President.
Read More: The ‘Mr. Robot’ Experiment: Can a TV Show Be Shot Like an Indie Film?
“I don’t think it’s political to dislike Trump,” said Esmail, during an interview for this week’s Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast. “I don’t think it’s controversial to say he’s a bad president. He’s clearly a bad president. He »
- Chris O'Falt
When Netflix announced it would finance the third season of the British sci-fi anthology “Black Mirror,” series creator Charlie Brooker knew he’d be accused of selling out. And then, the much-regarded, much-discussed “San Junipero” episode seemed to confirm his critics’ worst fears. For a show that revolved around dark stories of the future in which technology wreaks havoc, here was a fairly optimistic story about two women failing in love in the virtual-reality world of a sunny California beach town in the ’80s.
“‘San Junipero’ was the first script I wrote for season three, and it was partly I thought I’m going to blow up my idea of what a ‘Black Mirror’ episode is, so it has a very different tone,” said Brooker, who joined IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast with executive producer Annabel Jones. “And partly, I’d read people moaning, ‘Oh, I see Black Mirror’s gone to Netflix, »
- Chris O'Falt
“Where is the hope?”
That was the question was posed last week at one of the world’s most prominent launch pads for nonfiction films in development — Hot Docs Pitch Forum — and it reflected the general mood in the room.
As 20 filmmaking teams pitched their projects to dozens of top decision-makers, funders, and broadcasters sitting around the long wooden table in the Gothic-designed Hart House at the University of Toronto, there was a particular excitement for new documentaries that were “fresh,” “optimistic” and “fun”—to use some of the words spoken publically over the two-day pitch-a-thon.
See MoreHow Hot Docs, North America’s Smartest Festival, Could Anoint an Oscar Winner
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could see those same powerbrokers struggling over what to do with still essential, but tough issue-driven films having to do with post-revolutionary countries in the Middle East or the global refugee crisis. »
- Anthony Kaufman
When it comes to documentary filmmaking, the issue of perspective is often of paramount importance. A great deal of sensitivity and tact is required in telling any true story, especially one as fraught and horrifying as the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey, the six-year-old pageant queen who was murdered in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado. Kitty Green opts for a peculiar and altogether unsettling approach in her new documentary Casting JonBenet, one that utilizes a wide canvas of perspectives to approach some measure of understanding. Like a great deal of worthwhile documentaries, it offers numerous suggestions without ever providing any concrete answers, and leaves the viewer to sift through the evidence, so to speak.
Said evidence is provided by various actors — mostly consisting of Boulder residents — who are ostensibly auditioning for a filmed reproduction of the murder and unsolved investigation. This ersatz movie is, as may be surmised, a mere pretense to »
- The Film Stage
After James Gray finished reading David Grann’s book “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” – a nonfiction chronicle of British explorer Percy Fawcett’s obsessive quest to find a lost civilization buried deep in the Amazonian jungle – he was confused why Brad Pitt had sent it to him.
“I have absolutely no idea what they want me to do this,” said Gray when he was guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “There had been nothing in my career as a director that had shown I could do anything like this.”
Paramount had bought the book for Pitt , whose production company Plan B (“Moonlight,” “12 Years a Slave”) ultimately produced the film. Pitt had always wanted to work with Gray, and while it didn’t happen this time, Pitt will star in Gray’s Sci Fi film “Ad Astra,” which is shooting this summer. »
- Chris O'Falt
Joe Carman has a face made for the movies, but it’s not a pretty one. With an unkempt beard and tired eyes, he looks like he’s trapped in the headlights of a world that won’t cut him a break. The 40-year-old Seattle figure at the center of “The Cage Fighter” is a broken man defeated by every aspect of his life. Still, he does what he can to bury his troubles with macho swagger whenever he steps into the ring, engaging in the competitive mixed martial arts fighting that his family has urged him to quit. Carman’s persistence is at once inspiring and tragic, a bloodied metaphor for battling forward against impossible odds.
The feature-length debut of director Jeff Unay, “The Cage Fighter” hails from a tradition of intimate cinema verité that encompasses so many details from the lives of its subject that it may as well be a scripted drama. »
- Eric Kohn
Walter Hill is one of the great action and genre directors of the last 40 years, having made classics like “The Driver,” “The Warriors,” directed the pilot of HBO’s “Deadwood,” and produced, guided and rewrote the first three “Alien” films. With his latest film, “The Assignment” (originally titled “REAssignment” when it premiered at Tiff last fall), Hill finds himself in the unusual position of receiving sharp criticism for being transphobic.
“Want to know the truth, I don’t think it is very controversial,” said director Walter Hill, when he was a guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “It’s been attacked mainly by people that haven’t seen the movie.”
- Chris O'Falt
“That never happened because my short film was rubbish,” said Edwards, who was guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit.
Beyond his film being bad, Edwards realized the competition to be a director had multiplied since Spielberg had started out and it took more than a good short to get a foot in the door in Hollywood. Edwards’ first short, which he made with a his computer animator roommate, was one of the first student works ever to mix CGI with live action. The experience opened Edwards’ eyes to the computer as being the future of filmmaking and he now saw his path to Hollywood could be to make his own films from home, doing the editing and effects himself. »
- Chris O'Falt
“This is the best film I’ll ever be in,” declares Arthur Martinez, the eponymous star and subject of the singular, serpentine mockumentary “Actor Martinez,” in a tone that simultaneously brags and admits defeat. He’s probably not wrong. Most schlubby would-be actors can only dream of headlining a film as thoughtful and playful as Mike Ott and Nathan Silver’s first directorial collaboration, though it’s a double-edged honor — one that gives Martinez the showcase of a lifetime primarily by highlighting his personal and professional failings. Are we watching Martinez, however, or the character he’s made of himself? As the directors-for-hire of his flailing ego trip, are Ott and Silver being themselves or playing themselves on screen? Narrative and reality clash, tussle, and are eventually rendered indistinguishable in a witty, tortured puzzle picture — one in a growing subgenre of hybrid inquiries into the nature and limits of performance, »
- Guy Lodge
David Byrne leaned back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling of his charmingly cluttered Soho office: “I like to keep trying new things — it keeps me on my toes.”
Um, yeah. In the last decade alone, the 64-year-old art-rock legend has authored two books, released a pair of collaborative albums (one with Brian Eno, the other with Annie Clark), written a musical about Joan of Arc, turned a building into an instrument, scored a Shia Labeouf movie, and teamed up with Fatboy Slim to create a disco opera about the life and times of Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady of the Philippines.
For Byrne, a restless iconoclast who founded Talking Heads with some Risd chums in 1975 and has been expanding his horizons ever since, such unbridled creativity is just par for the course. He’s completely at the mercy of his muse — no matter where it »
- David Ehrlich
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.
That thing we can’t take for granted: a film whose many parts – period piece, war picture, blood-spattered actioner, deception-fueled espionage thriller, sexy romance, and, at certain turns, comedy – can gracefully move in conjunction and separate from each other, just as its labyrinthine-but-not-quite plot jumps from one setpiece to the next with little trouble in maintaining a consistency of overall pleasure. Another late-career triumph for Robert Zemeckis, and one of the year’s few truly great American movies. »
- The Film Stage
Golden Exits. © Sean Price Williams“No soul or locale is too humble,” John Updike wrote, “to be the site of entertaining and instructive fiction.” Which is a good thing for Nick, the nominal hero of Alex Ross Perry’s new film Golden Exits. The mild, meek, nearly-fifty archivist, played with greying dignity by former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, lives a pinched and incapacious existence, toiling ten hours a day hunched behind the desk of a basement office only a few blocks away from his Brooklyn apartment. It’s a spartan, closed-loop life, and Nick thinks it’s “thrilling”—which it becomes for a time, when a 25-year-old assistant arrives from Australia and threatens to disrupt it. Golden Exits is about that threat. Or more precisely, it is a film about what happens when order and routine are besieged by the promise of change—when the life one has accepted is beleaguered by temptation, »
IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is an exploration of how good movies get made through in-depth conversations with filmmakers about their artistic process. This fall and winter we were fortunate to host guests whose films are favorited to take home Academy Awards this weekend. As we get ready for the Oscars, here’s a look back at some of what we learned from the writers, directors and editors behind this year’s best films.
The Filmmaker Toolkit podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play Music.
Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” is a beloved sci-fi short story, but no one thought it was natural fit for the big screen. Well, nobody besides Eric Heisserer, who was emotionally devastated the first time he read Chiang’s 32 page story. He wanted to find a way to capture that feeling in a movie, but »
- Chris O'Falt
From an editing perspective, there couldn’t be two films more different than Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” and his “La La Land.” While both feature musical performances, “La La Land” is anchored by gliding, well-choreographed musical numbers, while “Whiplash” is driven by hard-pounding percussive cutting, for which editor Tom Cross won the Oscar for Best Editing.
“The thing with ‘Whiplash’ is we could always point to needing to keep up a certain amount of brutality and tension and suspense and velocity,” said editor Tom Cross who, along with Damien Chazelle, was recently a guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit Podcast. “We didn’t really have that to fall back on with ‘La La Land.'”
Although “Whiplash” features more cutting, according to Chazelle editing the film was a fairly straightforward process. »
- Chris O'Falt
“Krisha” was the big winner at the inaugural American Independent Film Awards, taking home the prizes for Best Film, Director (Trey Edward Shults), Original Screenplay (Shults) and Lead Performance (Krisha Fairchild). Anna Rose Holmer’s “The Fits” was the Best Film runner-up and was nominated in 12 different categories, while Robert Greene won two different awards for “Kate Plays Christine.”
The Aifa’s voting body consists of festival programmers and film critics, who cast their ballots in 14 different categories online. Full results below.
Read More: ‘It Comes at Night’ Teaser Trailer: The Director of ‘Krisha’ Returns with More Psychological Madness
07) “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” (Stephen Cone)
- Michael Nordine
As the definition of an independent film has shifted with the ever-expanding budget divide in American filmmaking — particularly Hollywood cutting back on its mid-range projects — when it comes time for awards season, it’s often only the highest profile of “indie films” that get recognized. While we do our best to recognize the films that often get unfortunately, a new awards has launched that honors the best of truly independent American cinema, featuring films all under a $1 million budget.
Aptly titled the American Independent Film Awards (aka AIFAs), they were voted on by international film festival programmers, U.S. based film festival programmers, and North American film critics (including yours truly.) “First and foremost, we would like to thank all film producers and distribution companies who helped us identify qualifying films and outline the categories. We’d also like to thank the international and American based film festival programmers, and »
- Jordan Raup
Antonio Campos gives the true story of the American TV news reporter who killed herself on air its second, superior big-screen telling
Two films made last year explored the wrenching, real-life story of the Florida-based local news reporter Christine Chubbuck who in 1974 took her own life on live television. Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine was a tricksy moral maze of a movie that explored the ethical dilemma of being a parasite of tragedy. By comparison, Antonio Campos’s Christine is less experimental in its approach, but this elegant, achingly sad study of debilitating depression is by no means a conventional piece of film-making. Deftly sidestepping any of the obvious narrative choices, this film confirms Campos (Afterschool, Simon Killer) as one of the most intelligent and consistently surprising film-makers working in Us indie cinema.
Continue reading. »
- Wendy Ide
The 2017 Sundance Film Festival is coming to a close with tonight’s awards ceremony. While we’ll have our personal favorites coming early this week, the jury and audience have responded with theirs, topped by Macon Blair‘s I don’t feel at home in this world anymore., which will arrive on Netflix in late February, and the documentary Dina. Check out the full list of winners below see our complete coverage here.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Larry Wilmore to:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Peter Dinklage to:
I don’t feel at home in this world anymore. / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Macon Blair) — When a depressed woman is burglarized, she »
- Jordan Raup
This year’s Sundance Film Festival capped off this evening with the fest’s annual awards show, held at Park City, Utah’s own Basin Recreation Field House. The ceremony opened at 7:00Pm Mt, featuring host (and Sundance premiere “The Incredible Jessica James” star) Jessica Williams shepherding along the festivities in predictably amusing fashion.
“I don’t feel at home in the world anymore.” marks the directorial debut of Blair, previously best known for his acting collaborations with director Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”). The movie stars Melanie Lynskey as a woman who embarks on a darkly comic adventure as she seeks out the identity of the person who robbed her apartment, joining forces with »
- Eric Kohn and Kate Erbland
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