12 Picks for the SXSW PanelPicker

High Maintenance High Maintenance

Not five months after the mammoth festival wraps, SXSW opens up their PanelPicker site, an online forum which aggregates all industry and filmmaker programming pitches for their next conference. Last year, I went through the offerings and highlighted 15 that piqued my interest; this year, the stakes are higher, and I’m down to 12 from the 183 listed. You have till September 5 to vote on your favorites. How “High Maintenance” Is Redefining Storytelling  I fondly recall the day former Managing Editor Nick Dawson sent me a link to an episode of High Maintenance some 18 months back. Since then, Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld’s comedic web series has gathered much steam and fanfare (including a stop over on our 25 New Faces…  Read more


“Dying of the Light” at MASS MoCA

Dying of the Light 16x9b

Do not go gentle into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas If you’re anywhere near North Adams in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, close by the New York and Vermont borders, anytime between now and February 1, 2015, do yourself a favor and drop by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art to contemplate their exhibition marking the last days of photochemical motion pictures: The Dying of the Light: Film as Medium and Metaphor. With the contraction of film manufacturing and virtual demise of laboratory services in the face of near-universal digital imaging, the medium of perforated, emulsion-coated film base — after a spectacular hundred-year run — is slipping into the special province of archives and museums,…  Read more


Stray Links 8/25-8/28: David Fincher’s Gap Ads and Kazakhstani Cowboys

One of David Fincher's Gap ads One of David Fincher's Gap ads

Behind the scenes of David Fincher’s new Gap ad campaign, the logistics of growing the beef industry in Kazakhstan, a look at illegal logging in Indonesia and more in this week’s links round-up: • Yesterday the Gap released four new ads directed by David Fincher. Mashable’s Todd Wasserman has the videos and quotes from Gap Global CMO Seth Farbman on Fincher’s typically exacting work process. One spot had the actors running 50 to 60 times up a set of stairs (the audition included ten minutes of running). Fincher lived up to his end of the bargain by creating “a new camera out of carbon fiber to track the actor as he ran up the stairs.” • Now here’s a proper…  Read more


Somebody: Miranda July’s Messaging Service

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 12.58.16 PM

Remember We Think Alone? Miranda July’s investigatory aggregate into the emails of famous people? July is again re-examining how people communicate in the age of information with a new app/messaging service entitled Somebody. Some sort of sick combination of texting and Tinder, Somebody ensures human contact upon receiving a message because that message is not your own — it belongs to someone nearby, and you are tasked with delivering it. To promote the project, Miu Miu commissioned a short from July that premiered today at the Venice Film Festival. In the supplement, a varied cast of characters (including July herself) humorously deliver messages to strangers. For now, the app will function at various hotspots inside museums like The New Museum,…  Read more


Trailer Watch: Jesse Moss’s The Overnighters

The Overnighters The Overnighters

I was flat out floored when I saw The Overnighters a few months back. It’s a documentary that unravels with the jagged edges of a thriller, while managing to be both an individual character study and comprehensive portrait of blue collar middle America and the nation’s economic and environmental crises. Still, it is somewhat unsurprising that many critics are calling out the film’s so-called manipulative treatment of its subjects, in a manner not unlike The Act of Killing‘s dissenters. I’d recommend seeing it for yourself and coming to your own conclusions when it opens on October 10. In the meantime, there’s the first trailer for the film, which is somewhat all over the place, neglecting to convey the true core of the story as Pastor Reinke’s…  Read more


Checkmate Director Timothy Woodward Jr. on Shooting with the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

On the Checkmate set On the Checkmate set

Director Timothy Woodward Jr. is currently in post-production on Checkmate, an action thriller with supernatural undertones shot using the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. The movie is expected to be completed by October, and is one of the first features shot with this camera. We spoke to Woodward about shooting with the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, as well as about shooting action sequences and why you shouldn’t “fix it in post.” This is part one of the interview. Filmmaker: Where did the story come from? Woodward: We found the story on a service called InkTip.com. It was very clever. It was well written, the pacing was really good. We contacted the writers and got the option. Filmmaker: You chose the Blackmagic Production…  Read more


Watch: Visual Effects at Work in Pascale Ferran’s Bird People

Bird People Bird People

“Confounding in a good way” is probably a cop-out way to describe a film, but I can think of few other ways to succinctly sum up Pascale Ferran’s Bird People. As you may have deduced from the title, this binary portrait features a supporting character of the avian persuasion, who turns in some of the most seamless VFX work this side of The Wolf of Wall Street. The above video from French special effects company BUF — who also handled The Matrix series, United 93 and The Dark Knight — reveals that nearly every background in the film was transposed onto a green screen. This would seem logical as the majority of the film unfolds at an airport hotel, with plenty of take offs and landings in the distance,…  Read more


Festivals & Events

The Humbling The Humbling

First Batch of 2014 TIFF Titles Announced

In a press conference this morning, Cameron Bailey and Co. released the Special Presentation and Gala selections for the upcoming edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. Lots to parse through as the slate boasts world premieres from Christian Petzold, Mia Hansen-Løve, Noah Baumbach, David Gordon Green,…  Read more

on Jul 22, 2014

VOD Picks

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    The Strange Little Cat Drama
    Official site
    8/1/2014 Fandor
  • life-itself-poster1
    Life Itself Documentary
    Magnolia Pictures
    Official site
    7/4/14 iTunes MOD


The Strange Little Cat The Strange Little Cat

Animal Portraiture: An Interview with The Strange Little Cat Director Ramon Zürcher

For this correspondent’s money, the film to beat so far in 2014 is Swiss filmmaker Ramon Zürcher’s The Strange Little Cat (Das merkwürdige Kätzchen), a dazzlingly low-key schematic diagram of a single day’s ebb and flow in a German apartment. Zürcher cracks the space open like…  Read more

on Jul 31, 2014