17 items from 2017
by StaffDirectors’ cinema, now: Tiff’s three-year-old Platform program returns for 2017 with more original voices and visionary films.
Last year, Platform included celebrated works such as William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth — currently playing at Tiff Bell Lightbox — Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, and Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award Best Picture winner, Moonlight. The 12 films in this year’s programme are another showcase for the artistry of a group of bold, dynamic voices in contemporary cinema.
Sweet CountryIf You Saw His Heart
This year’s lineup presents 12 films from eight countries on five continents. All selected films will compete for the Platform Prize, to be awarded by a jury made up of award-winning filmmakers Chen Kaige, Małgorzata Szumowska, and Wim Wenders.
The program will open with the world premiere of The Death of Stalin, from award-winning director-writer Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, Veep). The historical epic follows the final days leading up to the Soviet dictator’s death. »
- Sydney Levine
There are a few actors whose prowess stems in equal measure from their training or innate talent, and from their physiognomy. In the past we had Humphrey Bogart and Anna Karina. Today, Denis Lavant is one of those actors. Adam Driver also comes to mind. Greta Gerwig, with her lanky figure and mesmerizing expression, belongs to a category all her own.There’s a particular quality that comes to life when she moves. The movement might be as slight as bend in the lips, or as large as a star-figured jump in the air. Both are, in equal measure, unmistakably hers. Throughout her career, Gerwig has worked with directors who’ve captured her physicality by letting the film run long enough to capture the uniqueness of her movement. It took Joe Swanberg the entirety of Lol (2006) and 20 minutes of Hannah takes the Stairs (2007) to ask Gerwig to dance in front of the camera. This can only be explained by the director’s inexperience at the time. Noah Baumbach never made the same mistake, filming her twisting, twirling, and swirling, or just slightly bobbing for 17 seconds, to the tune of Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Uncle Albert”. Even for her small role in No Strings Attached (2011), Ivan Reitman had the good sense to shoot two scenes where Greta’s dancing held center stage. In Greta Moves, I endeavored to find patterns in the movements throughout her filmography, interweaving them with an abundance of match cuts. To create a dance tapestry that heightened those connections, the piece of music was fundamental. The inspiration for that choice—as well as the structure of the video essay—came from Wim Wender’s Pina (2011). The work was built almost entirely around the second performance in the movie and the lovely melody of Jun Miyake, “The Here and After”. »
Described in a statement as a “historic nonfiction film,” the Wenders work is not a biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio rather “a film with him.”
It marks the second co-production that the Vatican has made with outside filmmakers “and the first in which a Pope addresses the audience directly, discussing topics such as ecology, immigration, consumerism, and social justice,” the statement said.
In 2015 Wenders collaborated with the Vatican TV center during the Jubilee in Rome. More recently Wenders was spotted shooting in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, known to be an inspirational figure for Bergoglio »
- Nick Vivarelli
Focus Features has scooped up worldwide rights to Wim Wenders new documentary “A Man of His Word,” which touts exclusive access to the beloved Catholic church leader Pope Francis. The “Buena Vista Social Club” and “Pina” director’s latest film is less a nonfiction biopic and more a ridealong with the humble Pope, whose emphasis on uplifting the poor has won him global fandom and upended his institution. The film will showcase “footage from the Vatican’s archive shows the Pope on journeys, sharing his ideas and ideals in different parts of the world,” a Focus spokesperson said. Also Read: Cannes, »
- Matt Donnelly
The filmmakers of “Violets Are Blue” and “Mari”: Film London’s Twitter account
Microwave, the small budget feature film program from Film London, BFI, and BBC Films has revealed its two latest commissions. ScreenDaily reports that trans romance “Violets Are Blue” and family drama “Mari” have been selected from 12 potential projects. Both films will receive £100,000 (about $130,000 Usd) towards their production budgets, which must be capped at £150,000 ($194,000 Usd).
“Violets Are Blue” is from non-binary writer-director Marley Morrison and producer Michelle Antoniades. It tells the story of Ash, a young trans man traveling to find his biological parents, and his romance with Rose.
“The story was born of my own battles with gender identity, a need to discover the truth within myself and fully embrace myself as a non-binary individual,” Morrison said. “With many films and TV shows the queer experience is filtered through a heterosexual gaze and is articulated in heterosexual terms. It’s important that we make films that are truly reflective of our communities.”
Writer-director Georgia Parris’ “Mari” centers on contemporary dancer Charlotte as she navigates “a personal journey that goes from her grandmother’s deathbed to the prospect of motherhood.” The film, produced by Emma Duffy, will feature original choreography.
“Wim Wenders’ documentary ‘Pina’ changed everything for me,” Parris commented. “I saw the potential of contemporary dance to explore narrative — it has the ability to bypass spoken word and allows you to physicalize complex human emotions in a very dynamic way.”
According to ScreenDaily, several Microwave projects are going into production this year. Of the 14 filmmakers attached the films slated for production, eight are women and one identifies as non-binary. Among these films are Lucy Brydon’s “Sick(er),” a drama about an anorexic woman trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter, and “Looted,” a drama about a troubled dock worker who commits burglary from producers Jennifer Eriksson and Jessie Mangum.
Film London, BFI, and BBC’s Microwave Commissions Films From Female & Non-Binary Directors was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Rachel Montpelier
Exclusive: Commissions explore motherhood, matriarchy, gender identity and the modern Lgbtq experience.
The most recent selections are trans-love-story-come-road-movie Violets Are Blue and Mari, a family drama exploring a successful dancer’s struggle to ‘have it all’.
The films were selected from 12 projects, all of which went through a period of training, development and professional mentoring.
The two films will now receive £100,000 towards a capped £150k production budget, along with further development support.
Violets Are Blue, from writer/director Marley Morrison and producer Michelle Antoniades, focuses on Ash, a young trans man on a mission to find his birth parents who meets the vibrant Rose along the way. “
The story was born of my own battles with gender identity, a need to discover the truth within myself and fully embrace myself as a non-binary »
- email@example.com (Andreas Wiseman)
Cannes– Beta Cinema has boarded “The Invisibles,” a fictionalized documentary feature shedding light on Jewish citizens who lived in hiding when the Nazis declared Berlin “free of Jews” in 1943.
Directed by Claus Raefle and lensed by Joerg Widmer, whose credits include “Pina” and “Tree of Life,” “The Invisibles” weaves dramatic re-enactments and interviews with four survivors who were at the time teenagers and young adults. In 1943, there were 7000 Jewish men, women and children still living in the country.
Survivors are played by Cioma Schoenhaus (“Bridge of Spies”) who was earning his living as a forger of passports and Ruth Arndt (“Ghosthunters – On Icy Trails”) who pretends to be a war widow and serves black-market gourmet foods in the apartment of an Nazi officer. “The Invisibles” also tells the tale of a homeless teenage girl and a man who joins a resistance group and escapes the Gestapo.
“To us, this film »
- Elsa Keslassy
YouTube has acquired exclusive streaming rights to “Kedi,” a heartwarming and critically acclaimed documentary film about the stray cats in Istanbul, to be available next month on its YouTube Red subscription service.
“Kedi” will debut on YouTube Red on May 10, while it will continue its theatrical run in select locations throughout the year. YouTube reached the distribution deal with Oscilloscope Laboratories. The film has grossed $2.4 million to date in the U.S., per Box Office Mojo, making it the third-highest-grossing foreign-language documentary ever (behind 2010’s “Babies” and Wim Wenders’ dance documentary “Pina”).
The film, which premiered at the 2016 Istanbul Independent Film Festival, was produced by Termite Films’ Ceyda Torun and Charlie Wuppermann. Torun also serves as the film’s director and Wuppermann as the cinematographer. The film was executive produced by Thomas Podstawski and Gregor Kewel.
“Kedi” (which means “cat” in Turkish) takes viewers on a cat’s-eye journey through the winding streets of Istanbul, »
- Todd Spangler
Dark Night screens Friday March 3rd through Sunday March 5th at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood). The movie starts at 7:30 all three evenings.
A haunting, artfully understated critique of American gun culture, Tim Sutton’s third feature is loosely based around the 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado that took place during a multiplex screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Employing a mesmerizing documentary-style technique and a cast of non-professional actors, Dark Night follows the activities of six strangers over the course of one day, from sunrise to midnight, the shooter among them. Shot in Sarasota, Florida and lensed by veteran French Dp Hélène Louvart (Pina, The Beaches Of Agnes), the dream-like visuals articulate both Sutton’s carefully crafted landscapes and the characters’ sense of alienation and suburban malaise. Winner of the Lanterna Magica Award at the Venice Film Festival following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, Dark Night is essential viewing, »
- Tom Stockman
“If someone can hypnotize you with only a row, then that person is a genius,” says Israeli dancer Yossi Yungman, recalling wistfully the first time he saw an Ohad Naharin piece. By the end of “Mr. Gaga,” a new documentary about Naharin from Tomer Heymann, even the most dance-illiterate viewer would enthusiastically agree.
Naharin is best known as the inventor of “Gaga,” a movement language that emphasizes seeing and imagining over performing. Put your arms in front of you, and slowly roll your shoulders, giving no thought to how it looks. Now let your head drop from your neck any which way you want. Try to connect to your inner animal. Now you’re on your way to understanding “Gaga.”
Ohad Naharin grew up on a kibbutz in Israel. Through home video footage, we see that he was a gifted dancer from the outset. “The idea of physical pleasure from »
- Jude Dry
Burgeoning sexuality is the basis for nearly all coming-of-age films, but with her specific eye, Eliza Hittman makes it feel like we’re watching this genre unfold for the first time. With only two features to her name, she’s captured the experience with a sensuality and intimacy nearly unprecedented in American independent filmmaking. Following 2013’s It Felt Like Love, the writer-director follows it with another look at the teenage experience in Brooklyn for this year’s Beach Rats, this time with a protagonist five years older and of a different gender.
We first meet the 19-year-old Frankie (Harris Dickinson) as he poses, shirtless, in front of a mirror in his dark basement. Only illuminated by his selfie camera flashes, we see this display of masculinity, then soon learn he stores these photos on a computer, the same one he browses a gay Brooklyn-based webcam/hook-up site. His desires, which »
- Jordan Raup
Frankie, the oh-so-beautiful, oh-so-confused teenage protagonist of “Beach Rats,” isn’t much for answering questions. “I don’t know what I like,” he says curtly, if not dishonestly, to the various older men, sought in gay chat rooms, who want to know if they turn him on. And when a hesitantly acquired girlfriend asks him, twice, if he finds her pretty, he pointedly refuses to answer, bouncing the question back at her in a tone that’s both taunting and searching. Writer-director Eliza Hittman has a sensitive ear for the way adolescents reveal themselves through evasion: It’s a tension crucial to this anxious, tactile, profoundly sad study of a young man’s journey of sexual self-discovery and self-betrayal on the luridly faded boardwalks of Brooklyn.
- Guy Lodge
Two movies into a promising career, Eliza Hittman has already developed a significant vision of restless urban youth troubled by their emerging sexuality and a society that hinders their development. Her feature-length debut, 2013’s “It Felt Like Love,” focused on the bumpy trajectory of an introverted teenage woman exploring her urges with dangerous results; with the markedly similar “Beach Rats,” Hittman brings the same tropes to the plight of a young man in a film that has the precision of a great short story and the uneasiness of body horror. Even as its plot suggests more traditional coming-of-age dynamics, the filmmaker doesn’t retread familiar territory so much as reinvent it.
Both eerie and exciting, “Beach Rats” finds its closeted protagonist hiding his gay dalliances from his masculine buddies against a grimy Brooklyn backdrop. His unnerving experiences take place against an uneven series of circumstances and occasional plot holes, but »
- Eric Kohn
This year’s Sundance Film Festival is mere days from unspooling in snowy Park City, Utah and, with it comes a brand new year of indie filmmaking to get excited about. As ever, the annual festival is playing home to dozens of feature films, short offerings and technologically-influenced experiences, and while there’s plenty to anticipate seeing, we’ve waded through the lineup to pick out the ones we’re most looking forward to checking out.
From returning filmmakers like Alex Ross Perry and Gillian Robesepierre to a handful of long-gestating passion projects and at least one film about a ghost, we’ve got a little something for every stripe of film fan.
Read More: Sundance 2017: Check Out the Full Lineup, Including Competition Titles, Premieres and Shorts
Ahead, check out 20 titles we’re excited to finally check out at this year’s festival.
The trifecta behind previous Sundance »
- Chris O'Falt, Eric Kohn, Graham Winfrey, Jude Dry, Kate Erbland, Steve Greene and Zack Sharf
Ahead of its release next month, the first trailer and poster have arrived online for writer-director Tim Sutton’s upcoming drama Dark Night, which is loosely based on the tragic events of the 2012 mass shooting at Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises; take a look below…
A haunting, artfully understated critique of American gun culture, Tim Sutton’s third feature is loosely based around the 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado that took place during a multiplex screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Employing a mesmerizing documentary-style technique and a cast of non-professional actors, Dark Night follows the activities of six strangers over the course of one day, from sunrise to midnight, the shooter among them. Shot in Sarasota, Florida and lensed by veteran French Dp Hélène Louvart (Pina, The Beaches Of Agnes), the dream-like visuals articulate both Sutton’s carefully crafted landscapes and the characters’ sense of alienation and suburban malaise. »
- Amie Cranswick
A year after premiering at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Tim Sutton’s “Dark Night” is set to arrive in theaters courtesy of Cinelicious Pics. An elliptical quasi-documentary, the film brings to mind Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” (and, for that matter, Alan Clarke’s “Elephant”) as it explores the day leading up to a tragedy that’s modeled in part after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado of 2012. Find the film’s trailer and poster below.
The trailer offers glimpses of the nonprofessional actors who make up Sutton’s cast and keeps viewers guessing as to who among them might be plotting violence as day slowly turns into night. Hélène Louvart (“Pina,” “The Beaches of Agnes”) shot “Dark Night,” and her cinematography is its most distinctive, arresting element — all mood and atmosphere, the film relies on »
- Michael Nordine
One of the most controversial and haunting films of last year’s Sundance Film Festival line-up was Tim Sutton‘s follow-up to Memphis, Dark Night. An impressionistic feature loosely based on the horrific 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado which left 12 people died, the first trailer has now arrived ahead of a release next month. Featuring a portrait of a suburban community before hinting at the terror to come, it looks to be one of the year’s essential films.
We said in our review, “In many ways, writer-director Tim Sutton‘s third feature, Dark Night, exists in the same world as his first two films, Pavilion and Memphis. As we follow a collection of young men and women drifting through a long day in the American suburbs, many of the themes from his earlier work shine through — boredom as punctuated by anger, lust, and artistic ambition, to name a few. Where »
- Jordan Raup
17 items from 2017
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