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Film Independent is excited to screen Dee Rees’ debut feature Pariah on December 8 as one if its Project Involve community screenings. Dee and her producer Nekisa Cooper are both Film Independent Fellows – Nekisa was in Project Involve in 2008-2009, Dee and Nekisa were finalists for the Netflix Find Your Voice Award, and Film Independent awarded a Kodak Film Stock grant to Pariah when it shot in 2009. And Dees’ short film Pariah played the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2007, where it won the Audience Award. Dee was recently named a 2011 Fellow by United States Artists, and Pariah received two nominations for the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards – the film was nominated for the John Cassevetes Award, and Adepero Oduye was nominated for Best Female Lead.
Recently, Nekisa and Dee came in to talk with the new class of filmmakers in Project Involve. Before the workshop, Film Independent’s Director of Artist Development, »
- Film Independent
Some may follow in the footsteps of celebrated films such as An Education, Precious and American Splendor and go on to mainstream glory, while others are destined never to achieve so much as a distribution deal. The Sundance film festival, Robert Redford's annual celebration of independent film-making, yesterday revealed its competition lineup for January's event, which will take place as usual in Park City, Utah.
Debuting in the 16-strong dramatic competition are films starring Michael Cera, Paul Dano, Helen Hunt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, while the documentary section features another 16 movies on subjects such as Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei and the tax avoidance schemes of large Us companies. The world cinema drama section features »
- Ben Child
Way to go, American Splendor fans!
Donors have given enough money to honor author Harvey Pekar with a desk and sculpture to be installed at the Cleveland Height-University Heights Public Library.
Joyce Brabner, Pekar’s widow, said in early November that $30,000 had to be raised by Dec. 5, for his tribute.
The campaign, started online at Kickstarter, had already raised $30,787 through Monday with 669 backers, according to Carole Wallencheck, a reference associate with the library.
With 13 days to go before the deadline, Wallencheck said any surplus donations will be given to the library to buy graphic novels.
via Harvey Pekar tribute drive surpasses $30,000 goal | cleveland.com.
- Glenn Hauman
Harvey Pecker, an American comics author most noted for creating “American Splendor”, will soon have a statue built in his honor at Cleveland Heights Public Library. Joyce Brabner, Pecker’s widow, recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the statue, which would be created by sculptor Justin Coulter. The fund recently met its goal of $30,000, several days in advance if its Monday, Dec. 5 deadline (note: you can still donate, the Kickstarter campaign takes a percentage away from donations). The bronze statue will be mounted on a desk, with Pekar emerging from a comic book panel, while the reverse side will have panels on which participants can draw their own comics. The desk will always be supplied with writing materials and art supplies. Joyce Brabner stated, “Harvey always felt that comics were modern art and literature, and he loved the Cleveland Heights Library. This is especially for people who »
- Terry Boyden
Joyce Brabner has launched a project to honor her late husband Harvey Pekar with a statue at the Cleveland Heights Public Library, which he loved. Created by sculptor Justin Coulter, the bronze statue will be mounted on a desk, with Harvey Pekar emerging from a comic book panel, while the reverse side will have panels on which participants can draw their own comics. The desk will always be supplied with writing materials and art supplies.
Noted Joyce Brabner, "Harvey always felt that comics were modern art and literature, and he loved the Cleveland Heights Library. This is especially for people who are using their library cards instead of credit cards to manage tough times - and to encourage creativity. Inside the desk we'll also put things like some of the books Harvey read that opened his eyes, and got him interested in writing, music and a wider world. The installation »
Ja from Mnpp here. Have you heard about Imogene? Out next year, it's Kristen Wiig's follow-up to Bridesmaids - actually it's a project she'd been trying to get off the ground for ages that the super duper success of Bridesmaids made possible. It's directed by the duo of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini who made the splendidly sour American Splendor, and is similarly dark in comic tone. Wiig plays the title character whose plan of using a suicide attempt to win back an extra boyfriend somehow, weirdly, backfires, and she's forced to move home and live with her... let's say difficult mother played by Annette Bening.
Bening! So surely you guys have heard about this movie already. Well there are some pictures and a poster online today, which you can see here. There's something reminiscent of Bening's Mars Attacks! character to the look of her character, isn't there? »
Kristen Wiig has been trying to get the dark comedy Imogene off the ground for a few years now, but it wasn't until she found huge success in this spring's Bridesmaids that things really started to pick up  with her passion project. Now Imogene is shooting in various locations throughout the U.S. with American Splendor directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini at the helm, and the first images and a poster have hit the web. Scripted by Michelle Morgan, the story follows a New York-based playwright (Wiig) who fakes a suicide in order to get her ex-boyfriend's attention. Instead of winning him back, however, she ends up forced to move in with her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening) in New Jersey. Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, and Natasha Lyonne also star. Check out the photos after the jump. [We've removed the images at the behest of the production company.] Some of these stills are kind of boring, while others are kind »
- Angie Han
We're picking out your finest responses to our My favourite film series, for which Guardian writers have selected the movies they go back to time and again.
Who was Harvey Pekar? He was a grouch, a slouch, a miserablist. He griped and bitched about everything. But he did it in style. And he did it publicly, through American Splendor – a series of autobiographical comic books and the subsequent movie adaptation, which Amy Fleming chose to open the third week of our My favourite film series.
"Harvey didn't do happy," wrote Amy. "But he did funny and truth, and so does this movie – beautifully." Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman's film was a cinematic holiday from Hollywood's gloss and fantasy, she said. Trudging around, »
This was the week that Eddie Murphy baled out of the Oscars, leaving the way clear for the some fabric puppets
Once upon a time the Oscar ceremony was a comforting drone punctuated only by the odd song-and-dance routine and the banshee wailing of overwhelmed best actress award winners. Not any more. Someone, somewhere, decided it had to get "edgy". Last time, they had cool young persons in the shape of James Franco and Anne Hathaway introducing it - and look how that worked out.
The big idea for 2012 was to hire a bona fide Hollywood hotshot, so naturally the word went out for Brett Ratner. Yes, well... he made Rush Hour 2, you know. No sooner had Ratner persuaded his mucker Eddie Murphy to act as the show's host (an inspired choice, we give him that) then he was promptly ejected from his co-producer role after »
#32. Imogene - Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini Another title that just wrapped up production (see NYC outdoor pic above), Imogene does indeed look to be a longshot for the festival, but then I'm factoring in that filmmaking duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are habituals of the festival from American Splendor to The Extra Man and frequent Sundance visitors in producers Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler might want to introduce their first project under the Maven shingle at a fest they continually bring product to. A Premieres section showing is likely. Gist: This centers on a moderately successful New York playwright who fakes a suicide attempt in order to win back her ex-boyfriend, only to be under the custory of her mother, a gambler. Producers: Alix Madigan, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler(Ioncinema.com Preview Page // IMDb Link) »
• Don't spare us the graphic detail, post your own review of American Splendor – or get comical in the comments
The underground comic writer Harvey Pekar didn't really do happy, but he did truth and humour in spades, which is why American Splendor, a 2002 film about Pekar (in which he also appears), got under my skin in a big way. "If you're the kind of person looking for romance or escapism or some fantasy figure to save the day," warns his rasping narration at the start, "guess what? You got the wrong movie." Sometimes, a little cinematic holiday from the gloss and fantasy of Hollywood is just what the doctor ordered.
Pekar, a downtrodden hospital file clerk, chronicled the intricacies of his glum life in depressed Cleveland, Ohio, in his ironically named American Splendor comic books. »
- Amy Fleming
 I'm kind of a sucker for movies about fading stars (Sunset Boulevard is one of my all-time favorites), so I've been curious to see Art Linson's script The Comedian make it to the screen. I first heard about it this spring, when Martin Scorsese was rumored  to be directing with Robert De Niro in the lead, but that report's turned out to be only half true. De Niro is indeed set to star in the film, but it's Sean Penn who'll be taking over behind the camera. Additionally, the project has just seen the addition of Saturday Night Live veteran Kristen Wiig, in a rare (I'm assuming) dramatic role. More details after the jump. Linson's script revolves around an insult comic (De Niro) who once enjoyed fame as a beloved television character but now sees his career stalling. When he hits an audience member in the head with a microphone during a show, »
- Angie Han
Two years ago, a piece on Paul Giamatti appeared in The New York Times. Written by the author Austin Ratner, cousin to comic-book creator Harvey Pekar – whom Giamatti so perfectly embodied in his 2003 breakthrough film American Splendor – it was "an odd article", according to the actor. A lament for the writer's own late father, who like Pekar had contracted cancer, it was inspired by the fact that Ratner, who lives in the same New York neighbourhood, had seen Giamatti in a children's playground, with his young son, and had "felt my father's presence". »
The Dark Knight Rises is poised to be the biggest film in cinematic history, opening next summer as one of the most anticipated film projects of all time. But it almost wasn't to be. In his new book The Boy Who Loved Batman, executive producer and franchise rights holder Michael E. Uslan takes fans through the long and arduous process of getting Bruce Wayne and his dark alter ego Batman to the big screen, starting when he bought the rights in 1979, to the production of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman, through the new trilogy being directed by Christopher Nolan today.
We recently caught up with Michael E. Uslan to chat about his memoir, the now in production The Dark Knight Rises, which continues to shoot in Los Angeles, and what the future holds for this franchise. »
The Ifp and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have announced a collaborative program to take place during this year’s New York Film Festival called Emerging Visions.
According to the press release, Emerging Visions will take place Oct. 3 at Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center with 25 emerging filmmaking talents attending with a documentary or narrative feature that has been selected from Ifp and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s talent pool. They will be paired with an established director or producer who will mentor them through the current filmmaking landscape, offering guidance and connections to filmmakers on both their current projects and careers. Each filmmaker will receive mentorship and year round support from both organizations through annual memberships and participation in panels and events. The program will also include a live pitching session featuring panelists Christine Vachon (producer, Killer Digital), John Sloss (principal, Cinetic Media), Lucy Stille (agent, »
- Jason Guerrasio
Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular & The New Land
edited by Harvey Pekar & Paul Buhle with Hershl Hartman
Abrams Comicarts, 240 pages
It always seemed to me like mine was the last secular “Jewish generation” in America. Born in the mid-1950s, in the depths of Brooklyn in a neighborhood adjacent to the heavily Orthodox neighborhood of Crown Heights, surrounded on all sides by three generations of family, including grandparents and great-grandparents born in the old country, the entire world seemed Jewish. Even when my family moved (briefly) to West Virginia (population 5,000, only seven of which were Jews), then back to Brooklyn, to Canarsie and East Flatbush, the feeling of Jewishness never went away. The neighborhoods were now a mix of Irish, Italian, and Jewish, even a sprinkling of Afro-Americans, but when the family gathered, Yiddish was still spoken among the adults when the topic wasn’t fit for kinder, children. As a result, »
- Paul Kupperberg
Although Hope Davis, star of the new comedy feature "The Family Tree," was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Hillary Clinton in the HBO film "The Special Relationship" and an Emmy for playing Mia on HBO's "In Treatment" and was named best actress by the New York Film Critics Circle for her work in "American Splendor" and "The Secret Lives of Dentists," theater is her first love. Even after more than 380 performances on Broadway and in Los Angeles as Annette in "God of Carnage"—for which she received a Tony nomination—Davis says she was sad to see the show end. That may be surprising for someone who claims that she once had stage fright so bad, she considered quitting acting.Back Stage talked with Davis about her fear of auditioning, how she got over it, what inspired her to become an actor, what she thinks about the. »
- email@example.com (Jessica Gardner)
The Bening and freshly Bridesmaids minted Kristen Wiig are filming the comedy Imogene (2013) just 20 plus miles from where I type this. I absolutely cannot wait and my impatience demands that I assume this will get pushed up to 2012 calendar before long since they're already filming in summer 2011.
Everyone knows Wiig is funny after years on Saturday Night Live and the Bridesmaids smash but people always seem to forget how hilarious The Bening is whenever her characters are called on for comic moments, even within heavy dramas. I'm guessing her status as Hollywood Royalty and Serious Actress obscures this.
- NATHANIEL R
Here's a lovers and spouses collection of casting news, leading off with a nice change of pace report of an actor being cast as the 'love interest' for a major actress, rather than the other way around. After the break you'll find: Matt Dillon will woo Anette Bening in Imogene, The Killing actress Mireille Enos joins Gangster Squad, Stephanie Szostak cozies up to Ryan Reynolds in Ripd, and some of the Jersey Shore knuckleheads appear with famous fictional whackos The Three Stooges. The comedy Imogene, to be directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (directors of American Splendor) is sounding pretty great, or at least full of potential, as Kristen Wiig plays a troubled playwright who fakes a suicide attempt in order to win back her ex, and is then given over to the custody of her gambling-addict mother (Annette Bening). Now Matt Dillon will be the 'eccentric' love interest of Bening. »
- Russ Fischer
We've got a diverse set of projects on which to report in this latest casting break: a political prestige project, a more routine-sounding thriller, and a dark comedy with quite a good pedigree. After the break, you'll find: Brit Marling seems to have settled on Robert Redford's The Company You Keep as her next big role, Gerard Butler will play a rogue former FBI agent in The Bricklayer, and Natasha Lyonne joins Kristen Wiig's passion project, Imogene. Last week we heard that a few different directors have been courting Brit Marling (a new Sundance sensation thanks to Another Earth and Sound of Your Voice) for new films. Looks like the winner might be Robert Redford, as Variety  reports that the actress is about to sign on to his new film, The Company You Keep. Scripted by Lem Dobbs based on the Neil Gordon of the same name, The Company You Keep »
- Russ Fischer
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