The Tyranny of Interconnection: Two SXSW Films Tackle the Social Technology Present/Future

A Wonderful Cloud A Wonderful Cloud

In a half empty hotel ballroom in Austin last week, Brian Schuster — a porn entrepreneur giving a lecture on the future of the adult industry — introduced the concept of “the social singularity,” the idea that the difference between our networked relationships and our IRL ones will eventually become indistinguishable. With texts, tweets, Skype, and FaceTime, we’re already getting pretty close to that futuristic premise, something a lot of films still struggle to incorporate into their storytelling. But two of the best films this year at SXSW, Ben Dickinson’s Creative Control and Eugene Kotlyarenko’s A Wonderful Cloud, updated familiar social satire of the young creative class for our modern device-ridden reality of interconnection and hyper-documentation. Dickinson’s and Kotylarenko’s films…  Read more


“Just Getting a Bunch of Likes, or Creating a Hashtag? That’s Not Social Change”: Impact Producer Lina Srivastava


Lina Srivastava combines media, technology, art, and storytelling for social transformation. She is the founder of a social innovation strategy group that has provided project design consultation to social impact organizations, including UNESCO, the World Bank, UNICEF. But she also works as an impact producer with with filmmakers. She has worked on the Oscar-winning Born Into Brothels and Inocente, the 2007 documentary The Devil Came on Horseback, and most recently Who is Dayani Cristal? which screened at Hot Docs, Sundance and New York Film Festival in 2013 and recently won the 2015 Social Impact Media Award. She is also the transmedia producer and impact strategist of Priya’s Shakti, an augmented reality comic book and multimedia project that helps illuminate attitudes…  Read more


“Everyone Wants to Think Their Child could be President”: Morgan Krantz on Babysitter

Babysitter Babysitter

Writer/director Morgan Krantz’s first feature Babysitter was accepted into SXSW as a work in progress, so Krantz was working on it until the very week it premiered. “It was hot off the presses, and suddenly it was on the big screen at the Ritz,” he says. Babysitter revolves around a teenage boy and his relationships with the women in his life: his Wiccan babysitter, his mom who’s using him as a pawn in her divorce from his father, and the druggie girl he has a crush on in school. As an indie drama that invites conversation about topics like feminism and race,  it’s a very festival-oriented film, so it’s easy to see what attracted SXSW programmers to include it, even…  Read more


Words and All: New Directors/New Films (II)

Photo: Matt Lenski Photo: Matt Lenski

Hej hej JJ If doomsday scenarios compromised by persistent protagonists were the common denominator among the finest in week one of the back-loaded New Directors/New Films, the second week’s standouts hail successful rebounds. Entropy, smugness, resignation, and delusional security make way for palpable commitment, be it political, psychological, or emotional. The shared backdrop is the guarded, mine-ridden sphere of male bonding, more often than not inside restrictive institutions — a pair of bromances that take place within military bases and their outposts; a boy-gang dystopic chiller that revises the conventional sleepaway-school movie — but also within the split psyche of a troubled man and his double. The most overt likeness, however, is formal: language as a structuring device, as essential as…  Read more


“An Auteur Film with Pseudo-Anonymous Dialogue”: Benjamin Crotty on Fort Buchanan

Fort Buchanan Fort Buchanan

A truly original oddity, Benjamin Crotty’s Fort Buchanan melds disparate tropes of American television, queer cinema, and French arthouse to comic and dazzling effect. Buchanan unfolds at the titular army base, where husbands and wives lay in waiting for their men overseas, though the wives tend to occupy their time by attempting to seduce the gay husbands, or the temperamental daughter of the film’s most lovelorn protagonist, Roger (Andy Gillet). If something is askew in the characters’ roving dialogue, that’s because the script is entirely adapted from American TV shows, an off-kilter choice that finds a counterpart in Crotty’s cinematic language, in which seasonal set changes are ushered in with seamlessly animated helicopters, extreme close-ups function as establishing shots, and the notion of “crossing the line” is cast into…  Read more


Watch: 16mm Behind-the-Scenes Footage of Fellini Directing Amarcord


It’s not clear where this video uploaded by Eyes on Cinema derives from, and there’s no English subtitles, but here’s eight-plus minutes of rare footage of Federico Fellini directing 1974’s Amarcord. There’s fake snow to be packed together and set up, a typically Felliniesque array walking through it (a priest, a nun and a bull) and lots of Fellini slowly and decisively delivering directions on set.


5 Things Cinematographers Don’t Talk About

Sean Porter on the set of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Photo by Chris Ohlson) Sean Porter on the set of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Photo by Chris Ohlson)

I only faintly recall writing my last entry for Filmmaker Magazine. I was huddled over at some bar at a busy airport, in between jobs and cities I’ve only seen through the windows of a hotel: a cinematographer’s life. I do remember the article was a bit cheeky — I was pretty elated with the success of It Felt Like Love — so I thought this time that to commemorate Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter I’d get down to brass tacks. Here are five things cinematographers don’t talk about. 1. When to Say No Possibly one of the hardest parts of this career is dealing with any level of success. I’m very grateful for the filmmakers I’ve had the pleasure of…  Read more


Why Kurosawa Was a Master of Movement


Here’s another masterful film essay by Tony Zhou, this time on Akira Kurosawa’s use of movement in his films. Movement, you ask? Aren’t movies motion pictures and, thus, constructed around movement? Well, as a comparison scene from The Avengers shows, there is movement in the form of listless dolly moves and diffident head tilts, and then there is movement — elegant, multi-point master shots, vibrant background elements like wind and rain, and outsized expressions from actors that can replace pedantic dialogue. I especially like Zhou’s discussion of how Kurosawa cuts from stillness to movement. His appreciation here of Kurosawa has a lot to teach directors looking to add visual variety to their scenes. By the way, Zhou is now on…  Read more



BodyMindChange Cronenberg

The Promise and Realities of Creating Immersive Media Projects — Best Practices: A StoryCode Report

The following report on five pioneering immersive media projects — a report detailing their viewership, audience engagement and creators’ best practices — appears on Filmmaker courtesy of StoryCode, where it is crossposted. Anyone creating immersive media has run into a similar challenge: people outside of…  Read more

Mar 19, 2015

Festivals & Events

Violet Violet

Dogged: An Initial Five Picks from New Directors/New Films

A hat tip to former telecritic Richard Roeper for his prescient 2003 book of silly lists called 10 Sure Signs a Movie Character is Doomed, and to the egghead resident who left a tattered copy on the giveaway table next to my building’s mailboxes. After many…  Read more

on Mar 18, 2015

VOD Picks


Alex Sichel on the set of A Woman Like Me Alex Sichel on the set of A Woman Like Me

Elizabeth Giamatti on her SXSW-Winning Collaboration with Alex Sichel, A Woman Like Me

Winner of a Special Jury Award for Directing at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival, Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti’s A Woman Like Me is a frankly disarming and emotionally piercing hybrid doc as well as a necessary directorial collaboration. Filmmaker Alex Sichel’s 1997 debut feature,…  Read more

on Mar 18, 2015