7 items from 2013
Bujalski adds Technology to the Perils of Human Connection
In an Andrew Bujalski film, there is nothing harder than making yourself understood. Funny Haha is now considered a watershed moment, a film that spawned a legion of imitators. In it, Bujalski perfectly captured the muddled speech patterns and the even more confused motivations that characterize post-collegiate angst. Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax furthered this aesthetic, exploring the nuanced, minute ways people hurt each other, always at cross purposes, often not on purpose. With his newest Computer Chess, Bujalski explores a whole new terrain, and a new way of seeing but still with the same themes and preoccupations; it is not enough that human communication is trying, now technology must be a struggle as well.
A weekend conference at a third-rank motel is the battleground where teams from across the Us come to pit their computers against each other in a chess tournament. »
- Jesse Klein
Andrew Bujalski's funny, monochrome tale of the shabby beginnings of digital technology, shown at the Berlin film festival, is unique
Anyone disappointed by the authenticity of the Steve Jobs biopic really ought to take a look at this rather brilliantly conceived study of a (fictional) computer v computer chess tournament in the early 80s. (We know it's before 1984, as the tournament host claims he's put a bet on that it will take until then for a computer to beat a human at the game.) Written and directed by mumblecore maestro Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation), this is about as perfect a rendering of the era as you could ask for – to the extent you would genuinely not be surprised should this turn out to have been footage dug up from some time capsule buried in 1981.
Shot on a very old-school Sony video camera, the fuzzy, distorted black-and-white »
- Andrew Pulver
The SXSW Film Conference & Festival has just released a nearly complete lineup of its planned features for SXSW 2013, taking place March 8-16. The Festival will be kicking off with the world premiere of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and will feature other headliners Evil Dead, Spring Breakers, and Hawking.
The lineup announced today consists of 109 full-length features, including 68 films from first-time directors. There are 69 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, and 5 U.S. Premieres. These were selected from a record 2,096 submissions, including 1,482 from the U.S. and 614 international features. Submissions overall went up 7% to a total of 5,682. For the first time, Audience Awards will be selected in all categories.
"It's an incredible privilege to sift through so much exciting work, and every year brings new surprises. Though trends emerge after the fact, not consciously while we're programming, much of this year's program embraces love and the need/search/desire for connection," says »
I’m no psychic. But the minute I saw Andrew Bujalski’s sweet/geeky/playful/pointyheaded drama Computer Chess, I knew it would win the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, a cool-brainiac award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that comes with a $20,000 huzzah for an independent film project that, in the words of the foundation press release, explores “science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways.” I knew Computer Chess would win, first because most other films at Sundance this year explore relationships and sexytime themes rather than stories featuring scientists. »
- Lisa Schwarzbaum
Feature Ryan Lambie Jan 28, 2013
The winner of the Sloane Prize at Sundance, the indie comedy Computer Chess may prove to be the geekiest film of 2013...
If you've heard of the Alfred P Sloane Prize, you'll probably know that it's been an annual fixture at the Sundance Film Festival since 2003. Set up to reward independent movies with a scientific or technological theme, its list of winners from the past decade includes Shane Carruth's time-travel sci-fi movie Primer, Werner Herzog's captivating documentary Grizzly Man, and Mike Cahill's indie Sf drama Another Earth.
Sloane Prize winners earn a $20,000 cash prize, a sum which often amounts to a fair percentage of each film's budget; Cahill's ethereal Another Earth cost a remarkably lean $200,000 to make, while Primer was made for an absurdly lean $7,000. The prize is therefore quite an unusual film award, in that it singles out films with ideas greater than their makers' resources. »
There is an immediate sense of change afoot in "Computer Chess," Andrew Bujalski's fourth feature as writer-director, visible to anyone familiar with his previous work. While Bujalski's influential "Funny Ha Ha" -- along with follow-ups "Mutual Appreciation" and "Beeswax" -- were almost defiantly shot on 16mm film and focused on the interpersonal relationships of chic young adults, "Computer Chess" is a period piece set 30 years in the past and shot on low-grade analog video. Experientially, however, "Computer Chess" falls in line with its precedents while achieving much funnier, offbeat results. Focused on a group of proto-computer nerds involved in a tournament to devise first-rate chess software for their clunky machines, the movie relishes the awkward expressions of brilliance from its introverted leads. A savvy ensemble piece set over the course of a weekend-long hotel conference, "Computer Chess" »
- Eric Kohn
Harvard film grad Andrew Bujalski wrote and directed "Funny Ha Ha," "Mutual Appreciation" and "Beeswax," all of which have appeared on the New York Times’s “Best of the Year” lists. He's in Sundance this year with his Next entry, "Computer Chess." What It's About: "A convention of computer chess programmers, long before Deep Blue defeated Kasparov, losing their minds while they build an artificial one." What It's Really About: "The dawn of the digital age--a time when nerds were nerds, and the rest of us had no idea what was coming." My Biggest Challenge: "Middle age!" Inspirations: "William Eggleston's 'Stranded in Canton' mashed up with all the science fiction and fact I absorbed as a kid." Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced »
7 items from 2013
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