13 items from 2014
On the heels of the 39th edition of the Toronto Int. Film Festival (Sept 4-14), Ifp’s Independent Film Week is where a plethora of fiction, non-fiction and new this year, web-based series from the likes of Desiree Akhavan and Calvin Reeder find future coin. Sectioned off as projects at the very beginning of financing to those that are nearing completion, there happens to be tons of Sundance alumni in the names below. Among those that caught our attention we have Medicine for Melancholy‘s Barry Jenkins’ sophomore feature, produced by Bad Milo!‘s Adele Romanski, Moonlight is about “two Miami boys navigate the temptations of the drug trade and their burgeoning sexuality in this triptych drama about black queer youth”. Concussion‘s Stacie Passon digs into the thriller genre with Strange Things Started Happening. Produced by vet Mary Jane Skalski (Mysterious Skin), this is about “a woman who has »
- Eric Lavallee
“I wanted to start with an intensely personal story”, says Stacie Passon, a talented filmmaker presenting her debut feature feature film Concussion. And personal it certainly is, as a poignant, intimate exploration of a middle-aged woman’s lust for something new, something exciting, to remove her from the tedium of a middle class suburbia.
When speaking to the director, Passon speaks candidly about the project, and what inspired her to tackle such themes. She also tells us how she can relate to the lead role, and her joy working with the actress Robin Wiegert. She also talks about her portrayal of lesbian sex in the movie, and compares it to the contentious display in Blue is the Warmest Colour, claiming that female directors perhaps have more licence in such an area.
What inspired you to make Concussion?
There was a certain, ‘what the heck am I doing with life?’ feeling about it, »
- Stefan Pape
Director: Stacie Passon.
Running Time: 93 minutes.
Synopsis: Abby Ableman (Abby Weigert) has become disillusioned with her wife and children. After suffering an accidental concussion at the hands of her son, she looks for a means of escape and becomes a prostitute for other women.
If Jaws is not really about a shark, then Concussion is not really about sex. It is a character study of a woman seeking more from her pleasant but unsatisfying life. Creatively treading water and barely touched by her wife, she seeks excitement outside of the family which draws her into becoming a sex worker.
This is not a film that vilifies prostitution, nor does it glamourise it. While she works the high-end, she is never seen parading around Pretty Woman style with designer bags and a grin you could hurl a discus into. Nor »
- John Sharp
When a film opens with David Bowie’s Oh! You Pretty Things, it has set itself up for greatness. Instantly intrigued and endeared to the project at hand, the next, and somewhat more challenging job for the filmmaker, is to then maintain that distinction, and director Stacie Passon does a more than commendable job, in what is an accomplished debut feature film.
Robin Weigert plays Abby, who finds herself rushed to hospital by her partner Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) when her two kids accidentally throw a ball at her, cutting the side of her face open. It’s this act of clumsiness which proves to be the icing on the cake for the property developer, who longs for something new in her life, something licentious, to take her away from the tedium of this modern suburbia and the ring of Stepford Wives surrounding her. So when the opportunity arises to »
- Stefan Pape
★★★☆☆ Stacie Passon's debut film Concussion (2013) explores the modern ennui suffered by liberal cookie-cutter wives - with a twist that the female in question is a lesbian with her own partner and children. Beginning with a slightly satirical opening featuring a gaggle of middle-aged Stepford Wives doing a spinning class (as David Bowie's Oh! You Pretty Things plays over the opening credits), we enter a world of free-thinking, good-looking women, bemoaning their non-existent flabby thighs and ageing skin. One such woman is property developer and interior decorator Abby (Robin Weigert), who's no longer satisfied with her 2:4 lifestyle.
- CineVue UK
Top brass at the Independent Filmmaker Project (Ifp) have announced (12) 10 ten documentaries selected for the 2014 Independent Filmmaker Labs for first-time feature directors.
The creative teams of the selected films, chosen from a national pool of more than 200 submissions, are currently attending the first week’s sessions – The Time Warner Foundation Completion Labs – that run from May 12-16 in New York.
The Narrative Lab selections will be announced in June.
“With 80% of previous Lab projects debuted in festivals and released worldwide, the impact of the programme continues to be significant.”
The Labs were launched in 2005 as a three-day initiative for eight narrative projects and have evolved into a »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Kay)
Somewhat oddly, the GLAAD Media Awards split their awards across two ceremonies, three weeks apart, on opposite coasts. On Saturday, the second of these took place in New York, as a range of films, TV shows and media outlets were honored for commendable coverage of Lgbt issues. Included in the second ceremony were the two chief film awards. Best Picture Oscar nominee "Philomena" took the prize for best film in wide release, beating out the likes of "Blue is the Warmest Color" and three-time Oscar winner "Dallas Buyers Club." In the limited release section, I'm pleased to see that Stacie Passon's excellent but neglected lesbian drama "Concussion" was recognized. At the earlier ceremony, "Bridegroom" and "Call Me Kuchu" had tied for the documentary award, while "Behind the Candelabra," already lavishly rewarded, took the TV film/miniseries prize. On the TV front, Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" was named »
- Guy Lodge
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously stated that “There are no second acts in American lives.”
Concussion would beg to differ, it instead presents an American lifestyle permanently stalled in its second act – your dramatic conflict is internal, your strive for a conclusion is an endless war against the white picket waves of suburbia. That the film happens to center around a lesbian woman is almost irrelevant, this is a universal tale of confused escapism and sexual deviancy. You know, the usual stuff.
For every driven man or woman who strikes out and makes it big, there’s another who has to stay at home and watch the kids. What kind of life is a life based on monotonous routine? You should at least be paid. Something better is always just out of reach, but you’ve got to hit spin class and then pick the kids up before you can even think about grabbing it. »
- Dominic Mill
In many ways, Concussion feels like a big step forward: its sex scenes are frank without being sensational, and its portrayal of lesbianism never stops to congratulate itself on how ‘edgy’ it is. As something of an update on Belle de Jour, however, it registers as a bit of a disappointment. Filmed in a shadowy, verite style that seems to be legally mandated for all independent films shot in New York, Concussion never truly asserts a tone, feeling oddly distant from its own actions, despite an excellent lead performance by Robin Weigert.
- Anders Nelson
Ahead of the Oscars tomorrow evening, the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards have taken place tonight, with Steve McQueen's drama 12 Years a Slave leading the field with five wins, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay (John Ridley), Best Cinematography (Sean Bobbitt) and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o).
In the other acting categories, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto were named Best Male Lead and Best Supporting Male for their work in Dallas Buyers Club, while Cate Blanchett received the gong for Best Female Lead for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. Here's the full list of nominees, with the winners highlighted in red....
'12 Years a Slave'
Steve McQueen - '12 Years a »
- Gary Collinson
Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave pulled a five finger discount at the 2014 Indie Spirit Awards grabbing hardware in the Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography categories. Apart from the larceny in the Best Doc category, the winners in the above mention category (excluding Bobbitt’s work) and the double win pairing of Leto and McConaughey along with Cate Blanchett’s perf win in Blue Jasmine will likely repeat itself less than 24 hours later at tomorrow’s Academy Awards celebrations obviously begging many to ponder the following: who needs the 86th Academy Awards when we have the Indie Spirit Awards? While today’s most pleasurable wins come from the truly indie kudos for Best First Feature (Ryan Coogler for Frutivale Station) the John Cassavetes award for Chad Hartigan’s This is Martin Bonner, and the Piaget Producers Award to Ain’t Them Bodies Saints »
- Eric Lavallee
The BFI have announced this year’s theme (and new name!) to the London Lgbt Film Festival – going with the wonderful new name of BFI Flare. To coincide with the programme reveal, they also announced the opening and closing films of the festival.
The galas were the first big reveal, with the announcement that Hong Khauo’s first feature Lilting, starring Ben Whishaw, will be opening the festival, while the amazing Sundance smash 52 Tuesdays (pictured) will be closing closing. The Accenture Gala film will be the Cuban film The Last Match.
The ones to watch will definitely be the sub-sections of the festival, following the themes of “Heart” “Bodies” and “Minds”. Each section has been specifically picked to showcase the best of Lgbt features, documentaries and shorts highlighting the best talents from around the world.
- Lucy Cave
The time of the year has come for aspiring independent filmmakers to give their careers the boost it needs. The Ifp's unique year-long mentorship program, which supports directors through some of the most crucial stages of the production process, is now accepting submissions for their Independent Filmmaker Labs. The program, designed to help filmmakers with the completion, marketing and distribution of their low-budget features (<$1 million), provides them with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch both their films and their careers through industry support and exposure. "Ifp Narrative Lab was an immersive year-long intensive that helped me focus my energy to what needed to be accomplished with our film," said director Stacie Passon, whose Ifp Lab film, "Concussion," went on to Sundance glory. "If you’re lucky enough to be a part of this lab, as we were, it will change your entire perspective of the filmmaking process, »
- Ziyad Saadi
13 items from 2014
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