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“It Takes a Lot to Make a Film that Comes from Yourself”: The Babadook‘s Jennifer Kent

Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in The Babadook Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman in The Babadook

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, a frightening new film that finds the horror in the familial, opens Friday in theaters and on demand, almost a year after its debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Focusing on a mother and son terrorized by a lanky, ghost-like creature who originates from a withered pop-up book, Kent’s film does quite a lot with limited resources. Incorporating stop-motion animation, stylized lighting, and an effective use of sound, debuting Australian filmmaker Kent has a deft sense of control — a husband who dies in a car crash as he drives his pregnant wife to the hospital to give birth is pretty hefty stuff. In its depiction of a parental figure losing her grip on reality and giving in to darker, more maniacal instincts, the…  Read more

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2014 “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” Series Announced

L For Leisure L For Leisure

IFP, Filmmaker and the Museum of Modern Art are pleased to present this year’s slate for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, the annual series that spotlights films currently without theatrical distribution. Screening at MoMA from December 12 – 15, this year’s five films are Approaching the Elephant, Evaporating Borders, The Mend, L for Leisure, and Uncertain Terms. Past selections include It Felt Like Love, Frownland, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty and Sun Don’t Shine, all of which eventually secured distribution. Read below for a full description of each of this year’s titles. Approaching the Elephant 2014. USA. Directed by Amanda Rose Wilder. Little Falls, NJ, 2007: the new Teddy McArdle Free School is a passion project for founder Alex Khost, who believes in a form of education that requires…  Read more

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The 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

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The nominations are out for the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards bestowed by Film Independent. As the logo above suggests, the Film Independent Spirit Awards will be celebrating their 30th anniversary with this edition. Leading the nominations count is Birdman with six nominations, followed by five apiece for Selma, Boyhood and Nightcrawler. Note the special awards for Inherent Vice and Foxcatcher, both of whose budgets exceed the $20 million cap for regular award eligibility. The awards are announced February 21, and their official site can be found here. BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive producers are not awarded.) Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole Boyhood Producers:…  Read more

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Francesca Coppola on Her Kickstarter Project, Jonny Come Lately

Jonny Come Lately Jonny Come Lately

Writer/director Francesca Coppola has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for her second short film, Jonny Come Lately. Below, she writes about the short’s themes and issues, her decision to shoot on film and the power of community. Please visit her Kickstarter page and, if you are able to, consider donating. I’m only a few hours away from hitting the launch button on my first Kickstarter campaign to complete the funding for my second film, Jonny Come Lately. There is a whirlwind of feelings at play here and a maelstrom going through my head right now; I’m nervous, exhausted, confused, but honestly I’ve never been so eager and excited to present something to the world, to strangers, and specifically to you.…  Read more

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Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson Talks to Mike Figgis about Boogie Nights, 1998

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This 1998 interview with Paul Thomas Anderson has been online for a while; credit to The Seventh Art for finally bringing it to my attention. Talking with fellow director Mike Figgis after only two features under his belt, a supremely unfazed Anderson eats pizza while holding forth on Boogie Nights‘ origins as a short film equally inspired by Zelig and This is Spinal Tap, shares a lot of opinions about inadequate porn performances, discusses a written-but-never-filmed sex scene for Don Cheadle’s character, and generally shows almost no self-consciousness about saying whatever he wants. Emblematic of the era sentence: “I was actually with Quentin Tarantino the other night and…” (cue anecdote about Tarantino’s 16mm print of Reservoir Dogs).

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Hope for Film Author Ted Hope on Life, Independent Film and Systems Reboots

Ted Hope Ted Hope

Ted Hope — producer, Good Machine co-founder, and now CEO of Fandor — is no tongue-tied wallflower in the independent film community. Indeed, his passionate commentary, counsel and editorializing on topics ranging from net neutrality to making better films to a “systems reboot” of the independent film economy seem to be everywhere these days. But while his website, Twitter account and frequent speeches at industry events may make it seem that his opinions have been enabled — or at least turbo-charged — by this current social media age, he has, in fact, been lobbing list-driven rhetorical broadsides for years. (Don’t believe me? Read his “The Death of Independent Film” published in this magazine in 1995.) So, when considering Hope’s first…  Read more

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Birdman: Five Points of Contention

Michael Keaton in Birdman Michael Keaton in Birdman

Having barely survived Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams when it came out, I was inclined to stay away from his filmography for the rest of my life. But people I respect and trust — Iñárritu haters no less — kept saying that Birdman was actually quite good, so I popped in; two hours later, I felt as if my initial disinterest had been validated the hard way. Praise first for Edward Norton’s note-perfect rendition of the actor as a toxically always-“on,” reflexively self-dramatizing narcissist. Swaggering into conversations and pushing them into weird rhythms he can play with without regard for the other party’s comfort, seeking to turn life into one long Cassavetes conversation, Norton is absolutely spot-on, and the only truly…  Read more

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Ten Lessons on Filmmaking from David Lynch

David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival) David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival)

After 25 years, the wait is over for Twin Peaks fans. David Lynch and Mark Frost have announced a return to the mythical town coming in 2016 to Showtime. The show is often credited for having paved the way for the golden age of television today, when many TV programs rival cinema for compelling stories. Through the episodic medium of television, Lynch was able to create a multi-layered world full of rich stories, diving deep into the lives of its characters. The season will pick up in the present day and bring back many of the show’s iconic roles. Shortly before the announcement, David Lynch teased the possible comeback at the Lucca Film Festival in Tuscany’s storied city, where the…  Read more

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Filmmaking

David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival) David Lynch (Photo: Lucca Film Festival)

Ten Lessons on Filmmaking from David Lynch

After 25 years, the wait is over for Twin Peaks fans. David Lynch and Mark Frost have announced a return to the mythical town coming in 2016 to Showtime. The show is often credited for having paved the way for the golden age of television…  Read more

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Nov 24, 2014

Festivals & Events

Tabitha Jackson Tabitha Jackson

“The Lingua Franca of Non-Fiction Filmmaking Should be the Language of Cinema, Not Grant Applications”: Sundance Documentary Film Program Director Tabitha Jackson at DOC NYC

“We have to make artful films,” declared Tabitha Jackson at this morning’s DOC NYC keynote. Her thoughtful and engaging address — accompanied, half-jokingly, by what she dubbed her first attempt at Powerpoint — was filled not with statistics about audience reach or NGO partnerships but…  Read more

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on Nov 17, 2014

Interviews

The Shooting The Shooting

Bridging Ford and Antonioni with Jack Nicholson: Monte Hellman on The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind

In July of 1964, director Monte Hellman and actor Jack Nicholson went to the Philippines to shoot two war movies back to back: Flight to Fury, which Nicholson also wrote, and Back Door to Hell. By June of 1965, Hellman and Nicholson had shot two more movies,…  Read more

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on Nov 17, 2014

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