Back to selection

Swanberg Clobbers Faraci

Filmmaker Joe Swanberg clobbered Badass Digest critic Devin Faraci — in the ring, that is. I’ll leave it up to you to decide who scored more rhetorical points in their on-stage debate at Fantastic Fest. But after the verbal duel, the two climbed in the ring — literally — for a boxing match of which Swanberg emerged the victor. Indeed, Faraci’s haymakers were no match for Swanberg’s driving jabs. Matt Singer at Indiewire has the full transcript of the talk. An excerpt is below, as is a video of the fight.

Devin Faraci: Joe, I want to thank you for coming down to Austin, Texas to talk. I understand that last night you and your wife ordered out some Chinese food and that Magnolia is now releasing that in 100 theaters next weekend. Congratulations.

I’m here not because I hate Joe Swanberg — that’s just a plus. I’m here because I love independent cinema. I love indie movies. They are the beating heart of film. This is what the best, the brightest, our greatest directors from Oscar Micheaux to Roger Corman to Dennis Hopper to Kathryn Bigelow, Richard Linklater, Paul Thomas Anderson — this is independent cinema. These are people without big means, these are people with big dreams, big visions, and usually — take note — a script. Even Cassavetes, who didn’t have scripts, had these amazing actors, these incredibly trained naturalistic actors whose qualifications were much more than being willing to have sex onscreen with the director.

Mumblecore is the opposite of everything that’s great about indie film. It’s the laziest form of filmmaking. It’s a bunch of middle class and upper class white kids whining about their ennui and their middle class white lives in front of a camera, without a script, without good actors. Here’s what you need to make a mumblecore movie: a sense of entitlement, white skin, and Greta Gerwig, and that’s it.

To me, the word “core” at the end of mumblecore, sounds like it should be something punk rock, something amazing, something edgy. Instead it’s the blandest, most self-indulgent bullshit, aimed only at the narcissists who make it. Your only audience, pretty much, is you.

Joe Swanberg: Well, true to form, I haven’t prepared like Devin. I heard you use the word “lazy” just now, and also it seems to be the case that I’ve made more movies than almost any American filmmaker, so that seems to be a constant contradiction.

Additionally, if my audience is just me, why do I make a living as a filmmaker, and why do you seem to have seen so many of my movies? Maybe you recognize yourself in those movies, Devin. Maybe us mumblecore filmmakers are making movies from the heart that are connecting with you in a way that makes you a little bit uncomfortable, possibly in your underpants area. Maybe they’re a little too familiar. Maybe the awkward fumblings of the sexual scenes hit a little too close to home. So rather than embrace these films, you put up a wall of defense.

I also heard you mention Roger Corman, another filmmaker who, in his time, was accused of being lazy, amateurish, sloppy, all of those things. Now he’s a hero of yours. Maybe you’ve got to give these mumblecore movies another 25 years before you see the true impact of them.

Mostly, I’m out there doing it Devin. I’m making movies. I’m getting my friends together, with no money. We’re going out there, we’re doing it. We’re putting ourselves on the line for shitheads like you to take cheap shots from behind your computer. There wouldn’t be a you without a me, Devin.

Kudos to both filmmaker and critic for going through with this crazy but undeniably entertaining event.

© 2016 Filmmaker Magazine
All Rights Reserved
A Publication of IPF