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Michael Showalter on Working with Kumail Nanjiani and Judd Apatow on The Big Sick

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan in The Big Sick

Michael Showalter was a known quantity in the comedy world before he gave feature directing a shot in 2005 with the unassuming indie The Baxter. He started out in the early 90s on MTV’s sketch show The State, which spawned the careers of many talents with whom Showalter has continued to collaborate on shows like Stella and films like They Came Together and Wet Hot American Summer (which stars Showalter and has led to two Netflix follow-up series). Much of this work, as well as Showalter’s excursive, vaguely non-committal standup, is characterized by a warm disdain for the form. In particular, his films with David Wain gleefully mock comedic tropes and often abandon basic filmmaking grammar in the anarchic spirit…  Read more

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Watch (and Look): Teaser and Poster for LAFF Premiere, Everything Beautiful is Far Away

Several 25 New Faces — directors Andrea Sisson and Pete Ohs as well as star Julia Garner — grace the Los Angeles Film Festival premiere, Everything Beautiful is Far Away, which screens tonight at 9:10 PM. Here’s the festival capsule: Traveling across a barren landscape, Lernert digs through piles of rubbish in an attempt to build a body for his companion, Susan, the unresponsive robot head who hangs from the back of his pack. The pair come across Rola, a spirited young woman who lacks survival skills but makes up for the deficiency with sheer determination. This unlikely trio navigates the harsh desert in search of a mythical water basin that could replenish their depleted resources and renew their will…  Read more

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Documentary Goes “Alternate Reality” at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017

Future Aleppo

Virtual and augmented reality — a topic that is fast and feverishly taking over the zeitgeist of major film festivals — took center stage in last week’s 24th edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest. “What exactly is a feature documentary now?” Paul Ashton of Creative England asked panelists from Sundance, VICE, the non-profit film foundation Cinereach and Germany’s broadcast outlet WDR/ARD. In part, he was referring to the festival’s endless range of strands that covered experimental film, live theater and an expanded VR and AR section — “Alternate Reality” — that included 25 works housed inside the stunning Millennium Gallery and two additional tents around the city. While the “Feature Length For All Platforms” panel came back with a range of…  Read more

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My Journey Through French Cinema: Personal Canon-Building with Bertrand Tavernier

Bertrand Tavernier in My Journey Through French Cinema

Names you won’t hear in Bertrand Tavernier’s personal history of French cinema: Abel Gance, Marcel Pagnol, Sacha Guitry, Alain Resnais, Philippe Garrel. Don’t expect to hear about any directors who got started after the ’60s either: Tavernier begins with a solid overview of the glories of Jacques Becker, the first director to make an impression on him (“At age six, I could have chosen worse”) and ends with an equally lengthy tribute to Claude Sautet — along with Jean-Pierre Melville, one of his two professional fairy godmother gateways to the production side of French cinema. There is, to be sure, plenty of time devoted to Renoir and Melville, and a good deal on Godard (Tavernier was his press agent); this is, nonetheless,…  Read more

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Splitting Off from Powerlessness: A Conversation with Director Deborah Kampmeier

Split

2016 might have been the year when the dire position of women film directors finally broke into wider consciousness. After a monumental effort, spearheaded by Maria Giese, the ACLU and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed to hold major film studios, TV networks, unions and agencies to account, citing Title VII violations in all perimeters. 2016 was also the year the Cannes International Film Festival proudly announced that they showcased “only” 86% male directors — down from their average of 93%. Yet even as dismal statistics prove women are severely discriminated against at every level of film production and exhibition, there has been a perceptible shift. More films helmed by women are, in fact, being made on the independent…  Read more

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Five Questions with Loving Vincent Producer Sean Bobbitt

In 2014 I spoke with Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, respectively the writer/director and co-director/co-writer/producer of Loving Vincent, an animated film about the final days of Vincent Van Gogh’s life that was then in preproduction. Three and a half years and much blood, sweat and tears later the film is complete and premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival last week. It’s been gaining attention since its initial failed Kickstarter campaign (a second go was more successful) for its production method, with a team of artists creating each frame in the style of Van Gogh with oil paint on canvas, the first film to ever be executed in this way. The response at Annecy was overwhelming, with a ten-minute standing ovation…  Read more

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“What’s Pushback and What’s Just Conversation”: Director Gabriella Moses Navigates a “Potluck of Racial Identity”

Gabriella Moses

When she was growing up in Virginia Beach, Gabriella Moses was often confused for her best friend. Brown-skinned with glasses, both girls stuck out at their predominately white Catholic school, but Moses didn’t think she looked anything like her Filipina friend. When she distinguished herself as half-Guyanese, her peers hadn’t heard of the small South American country. She didn’t quite fit in at hair salons with her Dominican mom either since she didn’t speak the language. These days in New York, she’s sometimes greeted in Spanish. Others guess she’s African American. Some say bi-racial. “People want so hard to classify,” she says. But the language of identity is messy and imperfect. “It’s semantics at a certain point.” Even though she…  Read more

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From BTL to ATL: How I Went from Art Department Coordinator to Director

Melissa Miller on set with Brian D'Arcy James

The production designer Kelly McGehee called me one afternoon. I had been a production PA on a film we had both worked on. She told me she was starting a new movie and asked if I knew any art department coordinators. I didn’t — in fact, I didn’t even know what one was. But like any ambitious young person I did what you do in that situation: I said, “I can do it.” Not knowing what Google was yet, I hung up and did what you used to do when facing questions such as this one: call an actual human being and ask, “What the heck is an art department coordinator?” Honestly, though, if I hadn’t been so nervous, I…  Read more

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VOD Picks

Interviews

Nate Hardman in Bless Their Little Hearts

“People Can Choose to Create the Collective, Social Experience”: Billy Woodberry on Bless Their Little Hearts

Billy Woodberry was a graduate student in UCLA’s film program when he started work on Bless Their Little Hearts (1984), a gauzy black-and-white portrait of a married couple in Watts as their responsibilities to one another are tested by the burdens of underemployment. Day-to-day gigging…  Read more

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on May 25, 2017

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