Though it won’t hit theaters for nearly six months, The Birth of a Nation got its first trailer today — and it’s a stunner. The film — written, directed, produced and starring Nate Parker — wowed critics and audiences at Sundance earlier this year, where it won both the Audience Award and Jury Award and sold to Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million, making it the biggest Sundance deal of all time. Set to Nina Simone’s cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” the trailer artfully presents snippets of the story, which follows Parker’s Nat Turner as becomes the leader of the 1831 slave rebellion. […]
On the heels of the announcement that Nicholas Winding Refn’s new film The Neon Demon — his Elle-Fanning-in-LA horror movie — will be premiering at Cannes, we have a trailer. The tone is somewhere between Lynchian and The Canyons. This is one of five (!) Amazon Studios projects showing at Cannes this year.
The second of three short films from UnionDocs Living Los Sures project we’re screening here at Filmmaker, Division Avenue is an experimental film referencing one of the most traveled thoroughfares in New York, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Opening with a jaw-dropping quote from the BQE’s chief architect, Robert Moses, the film, directed by Anne-Katrine Hansen and Janna Kyllastinen, uses an aggressive cello score by Stanza Vaubel and a series of harshly poetic images to capture the violence of this borough-slicing roadway. Here’s the description of the film from its Vimeo page: Division Avenue (2014) is an experimental short film about one […]
Robert Johnson, Jr. and Diane Carson’s Other People’s Footage: Copyright & Fair Use is a documentary about exactly what its title says it’s about. Per the film’s website, the doc features “illustrative examples from nonfiction, fiction, and experimental films that use pre-existing footage, music and sound from other individuals’ creations,” while drawing upon a solid roster of lawyers, archival producers and other specialists in this often-muddy field. In this clip, the late Haskell Wexler discusses his strategy in using a Coors commercial in his documentary Who Needs Sleep?, followed by some interesting insights on the strategies used by 20 Feet from Stardom and Bowling for Columbine. […]
Steven Soderbergh continues being productive in new and unexpected directions with what’s technically (unless we’re blanking on something) his first short-form music video. (At the start of his career, he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Long-form Music Video for his work on the Yes concert video 9012 Live, some of which you can watch here.) The band is DCTV, headed by James Greer, a guitarist from one of the classic early lineups of Guided by Voices; recall that one of Soderbergh’s long-discussed, never-realized projects was Cleo!, a rock musical about Cleopatra with music by GBV mastermind Robert Pollard.
Ghost Digital Cinema has just released Malto, a short about pro skateboarder Sean Malto and the year he’s spent recovering from a massive injury in order to skate again. Directed by Ty Evans, the short was shot entirely on an iPhone using a slew of pro gear, including cinema lenses and a $9.99 app, Filmic Pro. Particularly interesting for those into iPhone cinematography is the short behind-the-scenes video, posted below, that shows the lenses, gimbal, use of the iPhone screen as viewfinder and more.
At the beginning of this examination of Alexander Payne’s work, Daley Nixon cites an old writer’s proverb that a screenplay consists of creating a character and throwing rocks at them; in Payne’s case, Nixon says, he lobs hand grenades. Yes, Payne’s worldview can be grim, but this video argues that failure is a catalyst for ultimately positive self-examination in his films. Includes digressions on the perils of voice-over, complete with a cameo from Frank Darabont.
Next week at NAB, a potentially very important new camera is being debuted. The Lytro Cinema camera has capabilities that could potentially eliminate the need for two-camera 3D rigs. Over at Studio Daily, Bryant Frazer has a good explanation of the camera’s features, technical specifications and potential implications. (Note: it’s going to be a very expensive piece of equipment, at least at first.) As he sets it up: Lytro is debuting a light-field cinema camera that captures volumetric data about a scene rather than a single image from one fixed perspective. That means it captures information about the direction light is traveling, […]
Very high on my list of anticipated works at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is LoveTrue, Alma Har’el’s follow-up to her stunning documentary, Bombay Beach. For her new hybrid doc, Har’el — a Filmmaker 25 New Face — has followed three very different couples whose behaviors challenge our expectations of what constitutes a love story. She’s also employed actors, who play her real-life subjects past and future selves. Har’el’s work is always provocative, soulful, and rich with stunning images and gorgeous music. Last year, I watched a short work-in-progress cut of this project, and interviewed Har’el. Here she is answering […]
Opening April 15 at the IFC Center and L.A.’s Independent Downtown is Echo Park, the directorial debut of celebrity photographer Amanda Marsalis. A relationship drama starring Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, Cake) and Anthony Okungbawa (Mother of George), the film is based on a number of incidents occurring in Okungbawa’s life. The actor is a resident of the titular neighborhood — a diverse, pedestrian-friendly swatch of L.A. that forms a microcosm of sorts for this film’s characters-in-transition. The script was written by AFI Grad Catalina Aguilar Mastretta. Check out the trailer above. Echo Park is released by ARRAY Releasing.