In his latest video essay, Jacob T. Swinney invites you to play a game: is the footage you’re looking at from a Terrence Malick film or a nature documentary?
I missed my 6am flight on the last day of the Borscht Film Festival. I blame Moonlight. And Miami. It had been an insanely inspiring weekend of art, film and new friendships at the festival’s 10th year down in Miami. Borscht ran February 22-26, encompassing live performances, film screenings, art installations, parties on islands and even a viking funeral — which I, regretfully, missed. I’d been hearing about Borscht for years through a number of my friends in the film community and via co-founders Jillian Mayer and Lucas Levya’s visionary films/art. Over and over, I was told the fest was a sort of refuge for other artists trying to find their voice, their collaborators and most importantly, for people wanting… Read more
Is there such a thing as a moral or “best” way to finance a movie in this country? Should filmmakers and artists be allowed to earn a living without having to worry about making their work commercial? What and where is the line when “art” becomes “entertainment”? And when “entertainment” becomes pure “product”? With the Trump administration’s proposed gutting of federal funding for the arts, these are some of the questions that have been rattling around my mind lately. I find them more difficult than ever to untangle. Questions about the relationship between art and commerce are exceedingly complex, not to mention fairly taboo discussion topics in the film industry. They lead quickly to larger questions about ethics and morality, politics and… Read more
As the 2017 edition of SXSW comes to a close, here’s a list of eight short films I saw that are worthy of your attention. There’s no clear throughline apparent here: documentary work investigating the infected water supply of the DC water crisis, midnight selections featuring mannequin heads that come to life to suck face, and miscellaneous narrative shorts that cover everything from the ending of a romantic relationship to a bond formed during an impending school shooting. Many will continue to screen on the festival circuit throughout the year, and some will be made readily available online before you know it. Use this as a guide to note which ones may work for you. DeKalb Elementary One of the year’s best… Read more
While resisting the urge to hyperbolically and lazily link any one film I see at this year’s SXSW to another, allow me to quickly note that Nanfu Wang’s I Am Another You (a world premiere in the Documentary Feature Competition section) and Julia Halperin and Jason Cortlund’s La Barracuda (which world premiered in Narrative Feature Competition) are, at their core, about women voluntarily visiting a piece of America foreign to them (Florida and Texas, respectively) to reveal their bare selves in the process. Wang is from China, the character of Sinoloa is from England; both come to town with a purpose that may not always be clear, even to themselves. The two films couldn’t be any more different. Wang is a personal filmmaker who places herself at… Read more
I first met Ram Devineni, creator of India’s first augmented reality comic book, Priya’s Shakti, at the FilmGate Interactive Media Festival in February, where he was presenting the graphic novel’s follow-up, Priya’s Mirror. (This work ended up taking the FilmGate Special Jury Award). With the series Devineni and his co-creators have revolutionized the comic book form, and not just technologically but also culturally. A survivor of gang rape in the first installment, Priya joins forces with acid attack survivors in the second, rendering the titular super-heroine tougher than your average Western badass chick. Devineni is participating in the Art, Technology & Change discussion at this year’s CPH:DOX, and Filmmaker was able to catch up with the AR artist prior to… Read more
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Warner Archive has released a gorgeous Blu-ray of Francis Coppola’s Finian’s Rainbow, a flawed but fascinating musical that marked a key moment in the director’s development. At the time, Coppola was a young filmmaker of promise who had worked in erotica (Tonight For Sure) and for Roger Corman (Dementia 13) before scoring a theatrical release for his UCLA thesis film You’re a Big Boy Now (1966). Coppola’s goal was to use that movie as a launching pad for a career writing and directing small personal films, but Jack Warner made him, to reference a later Coppola classic, an offer he couldn’t refuse: directing the adaptation of the classic stage musical Finian’s Rainbow with… Read more
We’ve featured the work of Frank Mosley on the site before, and we’re happy now to share the trailer for his latest short, Parthenon. Here’s the teasing logline: A naked body moves a stranger to empathy. Parthenon is a new short film by Frank Mosley — a slippery, dizzying provocation on art, control, and perception. The film premieres at the Sarasota Film Festival on April 1.
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
Ben Gaskell is a freelance cinematographer and DP for Witness Project, a series of short documentaries about oppression. For a recent episode on Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada 2015, Gaskell shot on the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K using old Lomo anamorphic lenses. Filmmaker: How did… Read more
This was my eighth (!) year attending the True/False Film Fest, and the first during which I wasn’t in a continuously 100% optimal mood — not the festival’s fault, attributable instead to the foul ambient fug emanating from the White House. I’ve written about my skepticism/aversion towards… Read more
Personal Shopper, Olivier Assayas’s latest feature, begins with a classic horror movie trope: an evening spent in a haunted house. Kristen Stewart plays expat Maureen — not a paranormalist or twentysomething thrill-seeker but a personal clothes buyer and stylist to Kyra, a celebrity socialite and… Read more