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“A Tiny Drop of Dew”: Journey to the West at the Tribeca Film Festival

Journey To The West Journey To The West

Journey To The West‘s 14 shots begin with an extended screen-filling close-up of Denis Lavant’s face, neck and shoulders. His carotid artery’s unignorable pulsing attests to how difficult it is to attain complete stillness and mastery of even a small portion of the body; wrapped in a Buddhist monk’s robes, Lee Kang-sheng’s subsequent slowgoing progress across Marseilles magnifies that strain across an entire person. Lee must always maintain motion without going any faster than absolutely necessary, and his legs and torso sometimes wobble with the effort of restraining more violent movements. In two extended centerpiece shots, he descends the stairwell of (seemingly) a passageway between two street levels and crosses a street corner in front of an urban intersection’s cafe.…  Read more

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“A Different Approach to Dissent”: 1971 Director Johanna Hamilton and Whistle Blowers on Government Abuses

John and Bonnie Raines John and Bonnie Raines

On March 8th, 1971, an anonymous group of individuals calling themselves the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole thousands of secret government documents. Within those documents was considerable proof of what many in the activist community had long suspected but been unable to prove: that the FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, was spying on law-abiding citizens and participating in a broad range of illegal activities designed to neutralize any and all critics of American policy. The group made photocopies of the most damning documents and sent them to various news outlets around the country. Betty Medsger from The Washington Post was the first to report on the contents of…  Read more

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Five Questions with Point and Shoot Director Marshall Curry

Point and Shoot Point and Shoot

A shy, sheltered, OCD-afflicted only child, Baltimore native Matthew VanDyke was not the likeliest member of the 2011 Libyan rebel militia, but Point and Shoot, the new documentary from Academy Award-nominee Marshall Curry, chalks VanDyke’s trajectory up to sheer sense of adventure. Determined to give himself “a crash course in manhood,” VanDyke leaves Baltimore behind with a camera in hand, winding his way through Africa atop a motorcycle. Along the way, he meets Nuri, his iconoclast counterpoint who will draw him into the revolution. Filmmaker spoke to Curry about relating someone else’s footage, and the documentarian’s dilemma of capturing the moment truthfully and artfully. Point and Shoot screens tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, following its world premiere last Saturday. Filmmaker: When and how did you get…  Read more

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Previewing Hot Docs 2014: Ukrainian Women in the Spotlight and More

Return To Homs Return To Homs

Hot Docs, the largest documentary festival in North America, opens Thursday night in Toronto, and a number of films caught my eye: Return to Homs is a grim diary of the Syrian civil war filmed from the inside — a dystopic landscape of bombed-out buildings, dead children, and snipers pockmarking empty streets as civilians run like frightened rats. The winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the World Documentary section at Sundance, this is likely the most difficult film to watch at this year’s Hot Docs, but perhaps its most rewarding.  On a similar note, The Condemned profiles several inmates at Russia’s Penal Colony 56, a maximum security prison for murderers that’s in the middle of a forest as large…  Read more

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Tribeca Film Festival XIII #2: Survey Says

Onur Tukel's Summer Of Blood Onur Tukel's Summer Of Blood

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence (don’t strain yourself trying to find out) that the same year the Tribeca Film Festival was partially acquired by Knicks owner James Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Company, the ESPN-sponsored sports film sidebar — a reliable showcase of “30 For 30″-esque jock docs destined for the network — kicked off with a gala screening of actor Michael Rappaport’s When the Garden Was Eden, a documentary about the Knicks’ late ’60s and early ’70s glory years. Here, the director of the well-regarded A Tribe Called Quest doc Beats, Rhymes & Life (which I wrote about here) relies on standard-fare interviews and archival footage instead of the intimate vérité that made his earlier film a standout. Hall-of-famers Willis Reed, Walt…  Read more

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2014 Rooftop Films Lineup

We Are The Best! We Are The Best!

Rooftop Films, New York’s pre-eminent outdoor Summer showcase, announced their lineup this afternoon, with a good dose of circuit selections and niche titles. Following a venue shuffle, Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child will kick things off on May 17 at Sunset Park’s Industry City, ahead of the film’s June 6 release. In my interview with Robespierre for the Spring issue, the director credited Rooftop’s grants and warm reception of her short as a necessary boost when deciding to press ahead with the feature, so it should be a nice homecoming. The slate will also showcase fellow New Directors/New Films titles, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and She’s Lost Control, both of which this writer recommends, alongside Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, 10,000 KM and (maybe my favorite of the year?) We Are…  Read more

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5 Questions For X/Y Writer/Director Ryan Piers Williams

X/Y X/Y

An admission of infidelity — hers — sends a pair of twentysomething New Yorkers into separate rabbit holes of desire, regret and personal discovery in Ryan Piers Williams second feature, X/Y. The film is something of a family affair, as Williams and his wife, America Ferrera, star as the couple, with each supported on their La Ronde-ish journeys by a charismatic cast of supporting players, including Melonie Diaz, Dree Hemingway, Common and Amber Tamblyn. Intimacy, IRL and online; sexual fantasy vs. reality; the artist’s life vs. the corporate warrior — all these dichotomies are explored in a film that draws its name not from the signs for male and female but from the middle ground of identity between the generations…  Read more

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5 Questions for Ballet 422 Director Jody Lee Lipes

Ballet 422 Ballet 422

Making his name with Afterschool and Tiny Furniture, Jody Lee Lipes has quickly solidified his standing as one of the most impressive American cinematographers currently working. Alongside a diverse slate of DP work (he both shot and directed episodes of Girls and is currently working on Judd Apatow’s next feature Trainwreck), Lipes has also been establishing himself as a documentarian. 2009′s Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same followed the title artist in the middle of a creative and personal breakdown/breakthrough; for 2010′s co-directed NY Export: Opus Jazz, Lipes staged a 1958 Jerome Robbins ballet on New York’s streets. Another kind of dance film, Ballet 422 reunites Lipes with Export executive producer Ellen Bar (who serves as New…  Read more

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Filmmaking

tribeca interlude

What to See from the Tribeca Film Festival Online

Screenings have just kicked off in Manhattan for the Tribeca Film Festival, but as always not all the films are showing in theaters–and there’s more available online this year than ever before. Here’s a quick guide to what you can see and how to see…  Read more

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Apr 19, 2014

Festivals & Events

Fishtail Fishtail

25 Picks for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

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…  Read more

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on Apr 16, 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

Wigon (2)

Tilda Swinton’s Best Interview Ever

Last fall Jamie Stuart was conducting interviews for his NYFF51. He ran into the publicist handling Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive and asked if he could get a sit down with Tilda Swinton. The answer: yes, but time was tight. The result is the…  Read more

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on Apr 7, 2014

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