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25 Picks for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

Fishtail Fishtail

The Tribeca Film Festival opens today, and, as usual, it’s a multi-headed hydra with splashy events, panels, talks but also, of course, films by new and emerging filmmakers. And while Tribeca has garnered a reputation in recent years as a solid platform for international directors with either world or U.S. premieres, this year the American independent section seems particularly strong. Indeed, it was easy to whip out this list of 25 picks I’m especially interested in seeing and that tie closely with the American indie focus of this magazine. Docs look especially sharp, with a number of them dealing with today’s trenchant issues of surveillance, privacy and government oversight. Innovations this year include Tribeca Now, the festival’s first-ever online film…  Read more

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Jon Jost Announces Fundraising Plans For 2K Transfers of Mark Rappaport’s Films

Mark Rappaport Mark Rappaport

The fight between the great director Mark Rappaport (Local Color, From The Journals Of Jean Seberg) and Boston University film scholar/Cassavetes specialist Ray Carney has its origins in 2005, when the filmmaker entrusted copies of his movies to the professor. In 2012, Rappaport went public with the troubling contention that Carney refused to return his work, effectively making it impossible for the director to earn any revenue from exhibiting the films. As Rappaport wrote last year, “the chances of anyone or any organization either having the interest, inclination, and, even more importantly, the cash to go through the very expensive process of digitizing these films, during my lifetime, is next to nil.” For his part, Carney has stuck to vigorous…  Read more

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For Holy Week, Philippines Censor Board Makes Sure Buses Show “Wholesome” Movies

A bus inspection being conducted Monday (from the MTRCB's Twitter feed) A bus inspection being conducted Monday (from the MTRCB's Twitter feed)

In the Philippines, Holy Week (the period between the last day of Lent and Easter Sunday) is a big deal, as you’d expect from the third largest Catholic country in the world. Part of Holy Week involves a mass exodus from capital Manila to smaller villages as residents go to be with their families, creating major logistical headaches on the traffic front. As part of gearing-up efforts, inspections of the bus stations began yesterday. 594 buses were granted special permits to drive outside of their normal routes, part of a larger array of regulatory measures. Separately, the country’s censor board — the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) — decided to conduct surprise inspections to make sure buses…  Read more

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Nathan Silver’s Undeniable Pressure Cookers

Exit Elena Exit Elena

A producer friend of mine recently opined that if your film does not get into Sundance, it’s a financial failure. That’s a hard and fast rule that doesn’t necessarily hold, beyond the frightening fact that nowadays, only one in five Sundance films receives theatrical distribution. Independent films still ink deals out of SXSW, Tribeca and the margins of Toronto, but what of the films that aren’t afforded the spotlight of the festival circuit? More and more it seems that unique perspectives are cast aside for formulaic, middle of the road, audience pleasers at these high profile showcases. Filmmaker Nathan Silver is both a friend of mine and a perfect example of someone who, in making demanding, uncompromising work, must find support…  Read more

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History on Autopilot: Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known

The Unknown Known The Unknown Known

Throughout season one of The Newsroom, viewers could play an idle game before each episode: which recent news item would be put through the Aaron Sorkin wringer, morphing from painful recent incident to an amusing babble of rapid-fire speech set in comfortably familiar rhythms? Sorkin’s been around so long his trademark back-and-forth/walk-and-talk exchanges smack of self-parody even when well-executed. His familiarity/inflexibility suggests a belief that any historical event or dramatic situation can be processed through the writer’s usual dialogue tricks and emerge with a sufficiently revelatory perspective. The same erroneous assumption underlies Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known, which has expanded nationwide to 80 screens without generating any evident excitement. Once Morris was an mutable enough stylist to synthesize his aesthetic…  Read more

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Trailer Watch: Obvious Child

Obvious Child Obvious Child

Ahead of its June 6 release, A24 has released the trailer to yet another potential hitmaker in their arsenal: Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child. I interviewed Robespierre about the film for our upcoming Spring issue, which upends the traditional romantic comedy route of boy meets girl by wedging an abortion into the mix. Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern, a comedian whose pathological on-stage oversharing is momentarily stunted when she finds herself pregnant by a one night stand. Surrounded by a winsome ensemble — including Gaby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman — Donna juggles her misstep and budding relationship with Max (Jake Lacy) with equal parts charm and consternation.

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2014 Sarasota Film Festival Award Winners

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely Thou Wast Mild and Lovely

I made the un-journalistic decision to forgo last night’s closing awards ceremony at the Sarasota Film Festival for a screening, but judging by the recipients alone, the event was a successful one. Sarasota’s programming, while eclectic and strong, can prove an interesting match for its respective audience. I witnessed about 10 walkouts during the astonishing Stray Dogs, and when the credits arrived after a languid 138 minutes, someone shot up in the back of the theater to wonder, “did anyone like that film?” I chuckled but did not raise my hand. Other hybrid, art house films faired better. Nearly every local I spoke with gushed over Robert Greene’s Actress and the Q&A I attended for Jessica Oreck’s opaque The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba…  Read more

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Life of the Mind: An Interview with Screenwriter Cliff Dorfman

Cliff Dorfman Cliff Dorfman

A bit player since 1993, Cliff Dorfman was instantly drawn to the movie business. “I started out scamming my way into whatever premieres were happening in NYC however I could,” he said. “I just wanted to be around it and absorb it. That attitude blossomed into connections that valued my work, which ultimately led to Entourage.” As we sat down for coffee, Cliff talked candidly about his journey and the writing process. After transitioning from acting to writing on HBO’s hit show, Cliff picked up a nomination from the Writers Guild of America and finally found his calling. “Thought I was gonna be a rock star or a movie god,” he reflected. “Nope. I was blessed in realizing that I…  Read more

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Filmmaking

VariCam 35 side

Digital Motion Picture Cameras in 2014: The Next Chapter

Welcome to Filmmaker Magazine’s fourth annual digital cinema camera round-up. Each year for reasons of publishing schedule, this overview is written on the brink of the big NAB show in Las Vegas. By the time some of you read this, journalists and bloggers will have…  Read more

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Apr 6, 2014

Columns

TwentyFeetFeatured

Five Questions for Twenty Feet from Stardom Cinematographer Nicola Marsh

Nicola Marsh was one of two cinematographers for Twenty Feet from Stardom, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Documentary. She’s worked with director Morgan Neville on a number of projects, including Troubadours and The Night James Brown Saved Boston as well as other directors including…  Read more

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on Mar 26, 2014

Festivals & Events

damnnation

If You Build It, Will They Come? On the Treefort Film Fest

Idaho’s only city of 100,000+ residents sits in a valley north of the Snake river. Boise is a boomtown these days, with over 150,000 new residents since George W. Bush took office and new west corporate bravado written all over it. The flat city’s pert,…  Read more

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on Mar 28, 2014

VOD Picks

  • gloria - image_{bc38bf0e-ae3d-e311-bba7-d4ae527c3b65}
    Gloria Comedy
    Roadside Attractions
    Official Site
    4/29/14 MOD VOD
  • Nymphomaniac_poster
    Nymphomaniac: Vol. I Drama
    Magnolia Pictures
    Official site
    3/6/2014 MOD VOD

Interviews

(Photo by Connie Tsang for TIFF) (Photo by Connie Tsang for TIFF)

“The only place to execute some kind of power was the film set”: Agnieszka Holland on her career

Agnieszka Holland’s first taste of Hollywood was a roller coaster ride. Literally. It was 1986 and her war drama Angry Harvest was up for an Oscar. “When you’ve been nominated for a foreign Oscar in those times,” the 65-year-old Polish-born director recalled, “one of the attractions…  Read more

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on Apr 3, 2014

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