Making VR that Matters: Johns Hopkins’ New Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies Program

In last summer’s print issue of Filmmaker I wrote about the ways that university film and computer science departments are adapting to teach virtual and augmented reality in their classrooms. In schools all over the world, students are finding ways to use VR and AR to create narrative films, documentaries, animation and games as aids in therapy, medicine, architecture and innumerable other fields. Now the newest school to launch a program is Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where a graduate level Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies Program is beginning in January. Headed by filmmaker Gabo Arora under the direction of Roberto Busó-García, the Director of the school’s Film & Media Graduate Program, the new program will seek to teach all the technical and theoretical…  Read more


Escape into America: The Eastern Oregon and Indie Memphis Film Festivals

Rat Film

Keeping on top of the media conversation in 2017 has begun to feel more like an exercise in self-harm than consumption. The dirty laundry is exhaustive and exhausting; we are quick to expose and defile, but quicker to move onto the next victimizer, leaving little lasting resolution in the wake of the penultimate upheaval. At the movies, we look for meaning where we can get it. Plots are politicized to the point where the once ghettoized “issue film” is mutating into standard grade. Even if the latest Thor joint is raking it in at the box office, cotton candy escapism is growing further and further from the norm across independent channels. The Eastern Oregon Film Festival is of a vanishing…  Read more


The Story Women Have Been Trying to Tell for Years Now

Thelma and Louise

Recently, I had to correct a friend of mine who referred to Thelma & Louise as an independent film. “Actually,” I said, “Thelma & Louise was 100% Hollywood, incredible as that may seem today.” It is not surprising that the Callie Khouri-penned story of two women escaping the law after killing a man for his attempted rape has developed an outlier reputation considering Hollywood’s response to it. Despite its critical and box office success, there were no copycat films made, no new genre emerged, no film movement was sparked. Since then, Hollywood has come nowhere close to producing another such revelation of the abuses suffered by women. Odd behavior for an industry that is usually more than happy to exploit…  Read more


DOC NYC 2017: Peter Braatz on Blue Velvet Revisited

David Lynch in Blue Velvet Revisited

The past year has proven to be a uniquely rewarding time for David Lynch obsessives, with the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks being the obvious highlight, but also marked by recent Criterion Collection Blu-ray/DVD special editions of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the new documentary, David Lynch: the Art Life, focused on Lynch’s painting roots. However, one of the most fascinating Lynch-related features in recent memory has yet to receive the widespread U.S. exposure it richly deserves, and it reflects back to a more traditionally structured Lynch favorite (indeed, still the film that some cite as his key work) that those who were confounded and/or frustrated by the cryptic denouement of the Twin Peaks return might be now looking back upon with…  Read more


“We Digitized Every Frame”: Andrew Sherburne on Saving Brinton and Film Preservation

Mike Zahs in Saving Brinton

“I like to save things,” Mike Zahs says in the opening seconds of Saving Brinton, “especially if they’re too far gone.” He’s referring, in the moment, to the stray animals that have hobbled onto his property over the years: a lost cat that birthed 11 kittens, a rotund dog named Tuesday. He’s also alluding to his great passion project, which originated at an estate sale in 1981. Zahs found a cache of mysterious boxes from the estate of Frank Brinton, a showman who traveled the country with his wife from 1895 to 1909 to project films and other pre-cinema entertainments for crowds in the Midwest and South. The boxes had such promising labels as “Brinton crap.” Zahs took them all…  Read more


DOC NYC: Barbara Kopple on Her True Crime Tale, A Murder in Mansfield

A Murder in Mansfield

“A friend of mine has this absolutely fantastic story that we should all do together.” Barbara Kopple heard these words, she tells me, on a phone call last year with producer John Morrissey (American History X). She’s likely heard such preambles before. Kopple has directed documentaries for more than 40 years, from her landmark labor-strike feature Harlan County U.S.A. to her profiles of Woody Allen (Wild Man Blues), the Dixie Chicks (Shut Up & Sing) and the late, eternally great Sharon Jones (Miss Sharon Jones!). Morrissey wanted to pitch Kopple a film on Collier Landry, an L.A.-based filmmaker whose mother disappeared in 1989 when he was 11 years old. Twenty-six days after her disappearance, her body was found beaten, suffocated,…  Read more


“What Kind of Pain is This Coming From?”: Martin McDonagh on Creating the Award-Winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

If the road to the Oscars is paved with festival accolades, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is already well on its way to victory. Opening this week, playwright Martin McDonagh’s third feature has already picked up two major prizes: the Best Screenplay award in Venice as well as People’s Choice Award in Toronto, the festival’s top prize. The actors masterfully balance humor with despair throughout the film. In what has been called her best role since Fargo, Frances McDormand plays a grieving mother who decides to take matters into her own hands after local police have failed to track down the man who brutally raped and killed her daughter. She rents three giant billboards calling out the local police chief,…  Read more


VOD Picks


  • The GOP Tax Bill Is Breathtakingly Generous to the Super Wealthy motherjones.com/kevin-drum/201…
  • RT @Screendaily: US film critics associations denounce Disney's LA Times 'blackout' bit.ly/2yaMr6F https://t.co/Ud4Ev6j2la
  • RT @RonanFarrow: My reporting is only possible because of a group of brave journalists who fought for the story & put up with this v tired…
  • RT @digitaldeath: Cache of the website for the nonexistent Reuben Capital Partner described in Ronan Farrow's article: https://t.co/q47eFVv…
  • RT @HeerJeet: David Boies' reputation will forever be tarnished by his work for Harvey Weinstein newrepublic.com/minutes/145694…
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