17 items from 2016
Christmas is the young star of Chad Hartigan’s latest film, the tale of a teenager and his father (Craig Robinson) adjusting to life in Germany. Between Christmas, Hartigan (2013’s “This is Martin Bonner”), Robinson and co-star Carla Juri (almost unrecognizable from her “Wetlands” role a few years ago), the cast and crew have all been notable, recent breakouts.
Read More: Sundance Review: ‘Morris From America’ Puts a Fresh Spin on Familiar Ingredients
For the youngster’s part, you can see why in the film clip below of Morris and Inka (Juri). He doesn’t say much, but Christmas already has the quiet confidence of a screen vet. “This is Martin Bonner” was able to take a quiet, confident protagonist and build one of the »
- Steve Greene
Chad Hartigan’s “Morris From America” earned high praise at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, winning the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. The film follows Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas), a 13-year-old who just relocated with his father (Craig Robinson) to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris is a fish out of water in his new home as he struggles to fit in with other kids, but when his German tutor (Carla Juri) insists he spend more time with his peers, he falls for Katrin (Lina Keller), a fellow classmate. He tries to impress her with his nascent rap skills while Morris’ dad attempts to acclimate himself and his son to their new life, but both of them will slowly learn that the best strategy is just to be themselves. Ahead of its theatrical release later this summer, A24 and DirecTV have released the film’s trailer, which features the new song by DJ Shadow and Run the Jewels “Nobody Speak.”
Read More: Sundance Review: ‘Morris From America’ Puts a Fresh Spin on Familiar Ingredients
“Morris From America” is Hartigan’s third feature film. His second film “This Is Martin Bonner,” about a man in his 50s who relocated to Reno, Nevada for a new job and forms an unlikely friendship, also premiered at Sundance in 2013 and won the Audience Award for Best of Next. Star Craig Robinson is best known for playing Darryl Philbin on “The Office,” along with his performances in “Pineapple Express,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and “This Is The End.” He will also be featured in the new animated film “Sausage Party” and James Franco’s latest “Zeroville.” Robinson won a Special Jury Award for Acting for his performance in “Morris From America.”
Read More: A24 Makes First Sundance Deal With Crowdpleaser ‘Morris From America’
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- Michael Nordine
One of the most charming films at this year’s Sundance was Morris From America, Chad Hartigan‘s follow-up This is Martin Bonner. The film follows Morris (Markees Christmas) and his father Curtis (Craig Robinson, who won a Special Jury Award at Sundance for his performance) who now live in Heidelberg, Germany, with the latter working as a coach for a local soccer team and the former trying to acquaint himself as a stranger in a strange land. Also starring Carla Juri and Lina Keller, A24 picked up the infectious coming-of-age / father-and-son dramedy following its premiere and now the first trailer has landed.
As I said in my review, “Coming to Sundance with his tender character study This is Martin Bonner a few years back, director Chad Hartigan triumphantly returns with the coming-of-age comedy Morris From America, a stylistic leap forward that still retains a keen sense of humanity. Telling the story of our title character attempting to keep his identity while making friends in the foreign land of Germany, it’s also an acutely funny testament to single parenting and the specific bond it fosters when both sides put in their all.”
Check out the trailer below and our interview with the director and cast here.
A heartwarming and crowd-pleasing coming-of-age comedy with a unique spin, Morris from America centers on Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas, in an incredible breakout performance) a 13-year-old who has just relocated with his single father, Curtis (Craig Robinson) to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris, who fancies himself the next Notorious B.I.G., is a complete fish-out-of-water—a budding hip-hop star in an Edm world. To complicate matters further, Morris quickly falls hard for his cool, rebellious, 15-year-old classmate Katrin. Morris sets out against all odds to take the hip-hop world by storm and win the girl of his dreams.
Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Chad Hartigan (This is Martin Bonner), Morris from America won two prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and a Special Jury Award for Robinson, who has been receiving tremendous praise for his touching and nuanced performance in his first dramatic role. Poignant and funny in equal measure, Morris from America is a delightfully original take on growing up, following your dreams, and finding your voice.
Morris From America screens at BAMCinemafest and hits theaters on August 19th and Direct TV on July 7th.
- Jordan Raup
This month, Brooklyn plays home to the annual BAMCinemaFest, featuring both some tried and true festival favorites (imagine if Sundance just happened to take place in New York City in the summer) and some brand-new standouts. Here’s the best of what’s on offer, as curated and culled by the IndieWire film team.
“Little Men” New York City-centric filmmaker Ira Sachs has long used his keen observational eye to track the worlds of the city’s adult denizens with features like “Love is Strange” and “Keep the Lights On,” but he’s going for a younger set of stars (and troubles) in his moving new feature, “Little Men.” The new film debuted at Sundance earlier this year, where it pulled plenty of heartstrings (including mine) with its gentle, deeply human story of two seemingly different young teens (Theo Taplitz as the worldly Jake, Michael Barbieri as the more rough and tumble Tony) who quickly bond when one of them moves into the other’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Jake and Tony become fast friends, but their relationship is threatened by drama brewing between their parents, as Jake’s parents own the small store that Tony’s mom operates below the family’s apartment.When Jake’s parents (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle) are bothered by looming money troubles, they turn to Tony’s mom (Paulina García) and ask her to pay a higher rent, a seemingly reasonable query that has heart-breaking consequences for both families and both boys. It’s a small story that hits hard, thanks to wonderful performances and the kind of emotion that’s hard to fake. – Kate Erbland “Kate Plays Christine”
It’s usually easy enough to find common themes cropping up at various film festivals, but few people could have anticipated that this year’s Sundance would play home to two stories about Christine Chubbuck, a tragic tale that had been previously unknown by most of the population (the other Chubbuck story to crop up at Sundance was Antonio Campos’ closely observed narrative “Christine,” a winner in its own right). In 1974, Chubbuck — a television reporter for a local Sarasota, Florida TV station — killed herself live on air after a series of disappointing events and a lifetime of mental unhappiness. Robert Greene’s “Kate Plays Christine” takes an ambitious angle on Chubbuck’s story, mixing fact and fiction to present a story of an actress (Kate Lyn Sheil) grappling with her preparations to play Chubbuck in a narrative feature that doesn’t exist. Sheil is tasked with playing a mostly real version of herself, a heightened version of herself as the story winds on and even Chubbuck in a series of re-enactments. The concept is complex, but it pays off, and “Kate Plays Christine” is easily one of the year’s most ambitious and fascinating documentaries. – Ke
This eye-opening documentary focuses on Brooklyn-based tailoring company Bindle & Keep, which designs clothes for transgender and gender fluid clients. Produced by Lena Dunham and her “Girls” producer Jenni Konner, the HBO Documentary looks at fashion through the eyes of several people across the gender identity spectrum, including a transitioning teen in need of a suit for his Bar Mitzvah and a transgender man buying a tuxedo for his wedding. The film has a deep personal connection to Dunham, whose gender nonconforming sister Grace has been a vocal activist within the transgender community. “Suited” is the first solo-directing effort from Jason Benjamin, who previously co-directed the 2002 documentary “Carnival Roots,” about Trinidad & Tobago’s annual music festival. – Graham Winfrey
Todd Solondz’s first directorial effort since 2011’s “Dark Horse” is literally about an animal this time. “Wiener-Dog” follows a dachshund that goes from one strange owner to the next, serving as a central character in four stories that bring out the pointlessness of human existence. The offbeat comedy’s stellar cast includes Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito, Julie Delpy and “Girls’” Zosia Mamet. Amazon nabbed all domestic media rights to the film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, while IFC Films is handling the theatrical release. Financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and produced by Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, the film marked Solondz’s first movie to play at Sundance since 1995’s “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” – Gw
Eagle Pennell has become lost to film history, despite making two of the most important films of the modern indie era. His 1978 film “The Whole Shootin’ Match” inspired Robert Redford to start Sundance and his 1984 classic “Last Night at the Alamo” has been championed by Tarantino and Linklater, who along with IFC Films and SXSW founder Louis Black is responsible for the restoration that will be playing at Bam. “Alamo,” which tells the story of a cowboy’s last ditch effort to save a local watering hole, is credited for having given birth to the Austin film scene and for laying the groundwork for the rebirth of the American indie that came later in the decade. Pennell’s career was cut short by alcoholism, but “Alamo” stands tribute to his incredible talent, pioneering spirit and the influence he’s had on so many great filmmakers. – Chris O’Falt
Read More: Indie Legend Who Inspired Sundance, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ And More Will Have Classic Films Restored
“Author: The J.T. LeRoy Story”
J.T. Leroy was an literary and pop culture sensation, until it was revealed that the HIV-positive, ex-male-prostitute teenage author was actually the creation of a 40 year old mother by the name Laura Albert. Jeff Feuerzeig’s documentary, starring Albert and featuring her recorded phone calls from the hoax, is the best yarn of 2016. You will not believe the twist-and-turns of the behind the scenes story of how Albert pulled off the hoax and cultivated close relationships (with her sister-in-law posing at Jt) with celebrities like filmmaker Gus Van Sant and Smashing Pumpkins’ Bill Corgan, both of whom play key supporting roles in this stranger-than-fiction film. Trust us, “Author” will be one of the most entertaining films you see this summer. – Co
Loosely based on the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado during a multiplex screening of “The Dark Knight,” Tim Sutton’s elegantly designed “Dark Night” contains a fascinating, enigmatic agenda. In its opening moments, Maica Armata’s mournful score plays out as we watch a traumatized face lit up by the red-blue glow of a nearby police car. Mirroring the media image of tragedy divorced from the lives affected by it, the ensuing movie fills in those details. Like Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant,” Sutton’s ambitious project dissects the moments surrounding the infamous event with a perceptive eye that avoids passing judgement. While some viewers may find this disaffected approach infuriating — the divisive Sundance reaction suggested as much — there’s no doubting the topicality of Sutton’s technique, which delves into the malaise of daily lives that surrounds every horrific event of this type with a keen eye. It may not change the gun control debate, but it adds a gorgeous and provocative footnote to the conversation. – Eric Kohn
Musa Syeed’s tender look at a Somali refugee community in Minneapolis puts a human face on the immigration crisis through the exploits of Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman), a young man adrift in his solitary world. Kicked out by his mother and unwelcome at the local mosque where he tries to crash, Adan meets his only source of companionship in a stray dog he finds wandering the streets. Alternating between social outings and job prospects, Adan’s struggles never strain credibility, even when an FBI agent tries to wrestle control of his situation to turn him into a spy. Shot with near-documentary realism, Syed’s insightful portrait of his forlorn character’s life recalls the earlier films of Ramin Bahrani (“Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop”), which also capture an oft-ignored side of modern America. With immigration stories all too frequently coopted for political fuel, “A Stray” provides a refreshingly intimate alternative, which should appeal to audiences curious about the bigger picture — or those who can relate to it. – Ek
After making a blistering impression at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Andrew Neel’s fraternity psychodrama “Goat” comes to Bam with great acclaim and sky high anticipation. Starring breakout Ben Schnetzer and Nick Jonas, the film centers around a 19-year-old college student who pledges the same fraternity as his older brother, only to realize the world of hazing and endless parties is darker than he could ever imagine. In lesser hands, “Goat” would be a one-note takedown of hedonistic bro culture, but Neel’s slick direction brings you to the core of animalistic behavior and forces you to weigh the clashing egos of masculinity. By cutting underneath the layers of machismo, Neel creates a drama of insecurities buried beneath the war between predator and prey. It’s an intense and intelligent study of a world the movies have always been obsessed with. – Zack Sharf
Brady Corbet has been one of the most reliable supporting actors in films like “Funny Games,” “Force Majeure,” “Clouds of Sils Maria” and more, and he even broke through as a lead in the great indie “Simon Killer,” but it turns out Corbet’s real skills are behind the camera. In his directorial debut, “The Childhood of a Leader,” the actor creates an unnerving period psychodrama that evokes shades of “The Omen” by way of Hitchcock. Set in Europe after Wwi, the movie follows a young boy as he develops a terrifying ego after witnessing the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. Cast members Robert Pattinson and Berenice Bejo deliver reliably strong turns, but it’s Corbet’s impressive control that makes the film a tightly-wound skin-crawler. His ambition is alive in every frame and detail, resulting in a commanding debut that announces him as a major filmmaker to watch. – Zs
Meet your new obsession: A spellbinding homage to old pulp paperbacks and the Technicolor melodramas of the 1960s, Anna Biller’s “The Love Witch” is a throwback that’s told with the kind of perverse conviction and studied expertise that would make Quentin Tarantino blush. Shot in velvety 35mm, the film follows a beautiful, sociopathic, love-starved young witch named Elaine (Samantha Robinson, absolutely unforgettable in a demented breakthrough performance) as she blows into a coastal Californian town in desperate search of a replacement for her dead husband. Sex, death, Satanic rituals, God-level costume design, and cinema’s greatest tampon joke ensue, as Biller spins an arch but hyper-sincere story about the true price of patriarchy. – David Ehrlich
Coming-of-age movies are a dime a dozen (and the going rate is even cheaper at Sundance), but Chad Hartigan’s absurdly charming follow-up to “This Is Martin Bonner” puts a fresh spin on a tired genre. Played by lovable newcomer Markees Christmas, Morris is a 13-year-old New Yorker who’s forced to move to the suburbs of Germany when his widower dad (a note-perfect Craig Robinson) accepts a job as the coach of a Heidelberg soccer team. It’s tough being a teen, but Morris — as the only black kid in a foreign town that still has one foot stuck in the old world — has it way harder than most. But there’s a whole lot of joy here, as Hartigan’s sweet and sensitive fish out of water story leverages a handful of killer performances into a great little movie about becoming your own man. – De
BAMCinemaFest 2016 runs from June 15 – 26.
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Related storiesChristine Chubbuck: Video Exists of Reporter's On-Air Suicide That Inspired Two Sundance Films'Wiener-Dog' Trailer: Greta Gerwig Befriends a Dachshund in Todd Solondz's Dark Sundance Comedy'Little Men,' 'Wiener-Dog' and More Set for BAMcinemaFest 2016 -- Indiewire's Tuesday Rundown »
- Kate Erbland, Eric Kohn, David Ehrlich, Zack Sharf, Chris O'Falt and Graham Winfrey
After his second feature This Is Martin Bonner was met with critical acclaim at Sundance back in 2013, Chad Hartigan is back with another outsider character study in Morris From America. This time the focus is on the trials and tribulations of Morris (Markees Christmas), a 13-year-old African-American teenager who is finding life in Heidelberg, […]
The post Sundance Film Festival: London 2016 – Morris From America Review appeared first on HeyUGuys. »
Chicago – Exclusive! Free festival 7-packs! In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of guaranteed festival 7-packs up for grabs to the fourth-annual 2016 Chicago Critics Film Festival at the Music Box Theatre from the Chicago Film Critics Association!
Michael Peña and other stars will be in attendance at Q&As!
The festival runs from Friday, May 20, 2016 to Thursday, May 26, 2016 at the Music Box Theatre. Created by the Chicago Film Critics Association in 2013, the Ccff offers a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites. It also features as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers ranging from award winners to talented newcomers chosen by members of the organization. The Ccff is the only current example of a major film critics group hosting its own festival. It brings together an eclectic array of films ranging from raucous comedies and foreign-made dramas to thought-provoking documentaries, midnight genre films and shorts programs. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Chicago – The Chicago Film Critics Association (Ccfa) has announced the first wave of films that will be presented at the 4th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival (Ccff). The fest dates are May 20th to the 26th, 2016, will it will take place at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago.
The 2016 Chicago Critics Film Festival is scheduled for May 20 through May 26, 2016.
Photo credit: Cfca
The Ccff is the first film festival curated by film critics, and features a selection of films comprised of recent festival favorites and as-yet-undistributed works from a wide variety of filmmakers. Passes are now on sale (information below), and the following seven films are just a sampling of over 25 films that will screen during the festival.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Three years after making a splash among indie enthusiasts with his feature This is Martin Bonner, writer-director Chad Hartigan has brought another film to Sundance. But whereas the former was about an old man navigating the barren, grayscale landscape of Sparks, Nevada, Morris from America is aglow with lusty colors and youthful energy. The film centers on young Morris, played by newcomer Markees Christmas, and his difficulty adjusting to life as a black American boy in Heidelberg, Germany. Craig Robinson (of The Office fame) plays Morris’ father, Curtis. At Sundance, we sat down with Hartigan, Robinson, and Christmas to discuss the making of the film and the development of its characters.
The Film Stage: How did you find Markees for the project?
- Daniel Schindel
The story of a 13-year-old boy who moves to a new neighborhood and struggles to find his place, "Morris From America" hails from a familiar playbook. But the specifics of that scenario — Morris (extraordinary newcomer Markees Christmas) is African American, and he's living in Heidelberg, Germany — freshen up the formula. The dissonance of character and place in writer-director Chad Hartigan's followup to 2013's similarly low key "This is Martin Bonner" gives this otherwise straightforward, well-acted coming-of-age tale an added cultural weight. It's both sweetly understated and progressive. Read More: The 2016 Indiewire Sundance Bible: All the Reviews, Interviews and News Posted During The Festival From the moment Morris is seen in the opening shot, bobbing his head to a hip hop beat, Hartigan makes it clear whose perspective the movie will adopt. Sent to his room by his father Curtis (Craig Robinson, in his first genuine dramatic turn) for not liking. »
- Eric Kohn
A24 has snapped up rights to “Morris From America,” a coming-of-age story about a rap loving teenager growing up in Germany, that premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival.
Variety critic Justin Chang praised the film as “a warm and winsome portrait of an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany.”
The price tag was for north of $1 million. UTA brokered the deal, which was first reported by Deadline.
- Brent Lang
"Chad Hartigan’s This Is Martin Bonner (2013) established him as a subtle, original filmmaking voice attuned to stories of uprooting and dislocation, and he wrings a more accessible and no less specific variation on the same theme with Morris From America, a warm and winsome portrait of an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany." So says Variety's Justin Chang. We're gathering reviews of the Sundance Us Dramatic Competition title starring Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas, plus interviews and more. » - David Hudson »
Chad Hartigan’s Morris From America has an unpromising logline, but so did his previous feature, This is Martin Bonner (an unlikely friendship between two men looking for redemption etc. etc.), and that turned out pretty well, so I wasn’t worried. Morris is a coming-of-age crowdpleaser, in the vein of “it’s been 18 years since Rushmore, but this version is different because…” (Son of Rambow, Submarine, et al.). I know a lot of people (I’m one of them, no shade implied) who find a deep satisfaction in action movies novel only in their details and crispness of execution while placing no value upon originality per se. That’s a principle which, of […] »
- Vadim Rizov
Near the end of the Sundance movie Morris from America, Craig Robinson gets a Scene, with a capital S. It’s not an ostentatious display of emotion or anything, but it is a monologue, and a tender one at that. He’s driving, talking to his son, and recalling a key moment from his life with the boy’s mom, and how he wound up moving to Germany on a romantic whim. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking scene — and the movie knows it. Writer-director Chad Hartigan (This Is Martin Bonner) keeps the camera mostly fixed on Robinson throughout, giving him the spotlight and the space as the character simultaneously indulges in a fond memory and tries to connect with his teenage son. But despite all that, nothing in this moment feels forced. Both stylistically and emotionally, the movie has earned it.The Morris in Morris from America is Mo (a wonderful Markees Christmas), a portly, »
- Bilge Ebiri
Coming to Sundance with his tender character study This is Martin Bonner a few years back, director Chad Hartigan triumphantly returns with the coming-of-age comedy Morris From America, a stylistic leap forward that still retains a keen sense of humanity. Telling the story of our title character attempting to keep his identity while making friends in the foreign land of Germany, it’s also an acutely funny testament to single parenting and the specific bond it fosters when both sides put in their all.
Originally from Virginia, Morris (Markees Christmas) and his father Curtis (Craig Johnson) now live in Heidelberg, Germany, with the latter working as a coach for a local soccer team and the former trying to acquaint himself as a stranger in a strange land. With a deep love for hip-hop, passed on from his father, he crafts his own rhymes to practice alone in his bedroom.
- Jordan Raup
One of the first real gems of 2016 Sundance Film Festival is the film Morris From America, the latest feature from filmmaker Chad Hartigan (of This is Martin Bonner previously). Morris, played by Markees Christmas, is a 13-year-old African-American living with his single father, played by Craig Robinson, in the city of Heidelberg, Germany. It's a complete fish-out-of-water story about the "only two brothers" in the town, but it's also a magnificent coming-of-age story that proudly emphasizes a "be yourself" attitude. It has a great soundtrack utilizing a mix of American hip hop and European techno, with impressive performances from Christmas and Robinson, and an amusing, funky vibe that made me so happy I came across this film. This is usually the case with Sundance films, but I've never really seen anything like this film before. There's not much to compare it to, as it's set entirely in Germany but doesn't feel like it's overly European. »
- Alex Billington
As Hollywood grapples with diversity inside its own walls, Sundance 2016 brought a charming and human tale of race, adolescence and identity in “Morris From America.” Directed by Sundance native son Chad Hartigan (“This is Martin Bonner”), “Morris” tells of an African-American father and son living in a historic German town where all is quaint but not very welcoming. It premiered in the U.S. Dramatic competition Friday afternoon at Park City’s Eccles Theater. Craig Robinson (“The Office”) is a Virginian football player turned European soccer coach who displaces both himself and his 13-year-old boy Morris to a culture where neither fit in. »
- Matt Donnelly
Chad Hartigan’s “This Is Martin Bonner” (2013) established him as a subtle, original filmmaking voice attuned to stories of uprooting and dislocation, and he wrings a more accessible and no less specific variation on the same theme with “Morris From America,” a warm and winsome portrait of an African-American teenager adjusting uneasily to his new life in Heidelberg, Germany. Set to the pulsing hip-hop music that fuels Morris’ dreams and offers him refuge in a place that can seem friendly and threatening by turns, this coming-of-age dramedy explores how the challenges of being young, black and misunderstood can be compounded in a foreign environment, but goes about it in a grounded, character-driven way that never smacks of manipulation or special pleading.
Although livelier and more upbeat than “This Is Martin Bonner” in a way that should be reflected commercially, Hartigan’s third feature (he debuted with 2008’s “Luke and Brie »
- Justin Chang
17 items from 2016
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