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Moonlight Scores a Record Six Independent Spirit Awards, Including Best Picture and Best Director

Moonlight

Moonlight was the big winner at the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards, held this afternoon in Santa Monica, CA. Barry Jenkins’ incisive and complex dramatic triptych won a record six awards, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and the Robert Altman Award for its ensemble performers. In this acceptance speech for the Best Director Award, Jenkins confirmed the film’s budget — $1.5 million! — and thanked “anyone whose name was on a call sheet on those 24 hot-ass days in Miami.” The only other multiple winner was Robert Eggers’ 16th-century supernatural horror film, The Witch, which picked up Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay. Many of the other awards went to expected winners, including Best…  Read more

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Trailer Watch: Heidi Saman’s Namour

Namour

Philadelphia-based filmmaker Heidi Saman made our 25 New Faces list in 2014 on the basis of two works, one ongoing and one just finished. The ongoing one is her long-running film Tumblr “Four Eyes,” which consists of elegant frome/quote combinations. The just-finished project is her debut feature, Namour, which is being released March 1 by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY before being available widely through Netflix on March 15. Saman had made a previous short, The Maid, and works as a producer for NPR. From my “25 New Faces” profile: The Tumblr community was among those who supported Saman’s successful Kickstarter earlier this year, and now Saman will take seven weeks off from Fresh Air to prep for a September shoot in…  Read more

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“I Was at a Point in My Life When I Needed to Take a Risk”: Barry Jenkins on his Debut Feature, Medicine for Melancholy

Medicine for Melancholy

Nominated for Best Director and Best Picture for his beautiful and incisive Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has long appeared in the pages of Filmmaker. He was a 25 New Face in 2008 and then, just months later, graced our Winter, 2009 cover for his debut feature, Medicine for Melancholy. Online for the first time, here is my interview with Jenkins about the film, an interview that’s a great read and a fascinating look back at the career beginnings of one of our best directors. — SM Usually lacking the budget to build elaborate sets, independent films have most often been shot on location. Some of our best films — independent or otherwise, actually — have gained a vital texture, a real…  Read more

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23 Paces to Baker Street, Mildred Pierce, Linklater and Almodovar, and More: Jim Hemphill’s Home Video Recommendations

Mildred Pierce

In a career-spanning interview with Polly Platt for the DGA oral history series, director Henry Hathaway dismissed his 1956 thriller 23 Paces to Baker Street as a throwaway, one of those studio assignments he took without much relish. It’s yet another example of why filmmakers cannot be trusted when it comes to their own films, for while the material is slightly shopworn (and owes an enormous and obvious debt to Hitchcock’s Rear Window), Hathaway frames it with meticulous care and artistry. The movie follows Van Johnson as a blind playwright who thinks he overhears a crime being plotted; after the authorities dismiss him as a crackpot, he sets out to investigate with the help of a woman who loves him…  Read more

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Alone Inside: Kristi Jacobson on Her Penetrating Documentary about Solitary Confinement, Solitary

Solitary (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Kristi Jacobson was nominated for the Truer than Fiction Spirit Award for her artful and incisive documentary on solitary confinement, Solitary. The film plays this month on HBO, and filmmaker Alix Lambert interviewed Jacobson for our Winter issue. With Solitary, filmmaker Kristi Jacobson offers her audience an experience both visceral and intimate inside the notorious Red Onion supermax prison in Wise County, Virginia. Jacobson, who spent a year filming at the prison, examines the devastating effects of solitary confinement by introducing us to the men who are incarcerated as well as to the guards and others who work at the prison. With elegantly composed images and careful, eerie use of sound — and without statistics, archival footage and narration —…  Read more

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Meet the Team Behind Zucchini, the Blue-Haired, Swiss Boy That’s Stolen Hollywood’s Heart

My Life is a Zucchini

If comforting hugs could be delivered in visual form, My Life as a Zucchini would be the warmest of them all. Kindhearted but not sugarcoated, Claude Barras’ first animated feature has quickly become a global phenomenon, winning many international awards and now an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature. Its most delightful victory, however, is in dealing with hardship and tragedy with honest tactfulness wrapped in colorful design. Social realism filtered through the magical physicality of stop-motion is the recipe at the root of this touching adaptation of French scribe Gilles Paris’s novel, for which Girlhood director Céline Sciamma served as screenwriter. As unconventional as the pairing might appear, it resulted on film that is a masterclass in the…  Read more

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~29 Movies Shot on 35mm Released In 2016

This is my third time rounding up the previous year’s US theatrical releases shot in 35mm, and this year’s number is substantively lower than 2014 (39) and 2015 (~64). This seems like an anomaly, not a permanent trend: following the high-profile push by J.J. Abrams et al. to force studios to pony up for a certain amount of Kodak celluloid for the forseeable future, the company seems solvent enough (and they’re bringing back Ektachrome!). Some celluloid regulars (Spielberg, Nolan, Abrams, Tarantino) sat the year out, while Woody Allen jumped to digital, and there are fewer straggler releases that were completed three or four years ago that were still shot on film. As usual, my tally does not account for exclusively 16mm-based…  Read more

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Filmmaking

~29 Movies Shot on 35mm Released In 2016

This is my third time rounding up the previous year’s US theatrical releases shot in 35mm, and this year’s number is substantively lower than 2014 (39) and 2015 (~64). This seems like an anomaly, not a permanent trend: following the high-profile push by J.J. Abrams et…  Read more

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Feb 22, 2017

Festivals & Events

Bright Nights

Berlin Critic’s Notebook 2: Bright Nights, A Fantastic Woman

Thomas Arslan’s flaccid anti-Western Gold, which screened here in Competition four years ago, spoiled what could have been a brilliant hat-trick for the Berlin School alumnus following Vacation and In the Shadows. With Bright Nights he’s back in great form, once again showcasing his flair for precise, intimately scaled dramas.…  Read more

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on Feb 16, 2017

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