Looking for the New at the 2020 Sundance New Frontier

A Machine for Viewing

Like couture as the harbinger of everyday fashion, Sundance positions New Frontier -- New Frontier at the Ray, New Frontier Central and the Biodigital Theatre -- as the pilot showcase for what is coming down the pike for moving-image storytellers (a likely justification for programming what only relatively few people wearing headsets can experience at a film festival, which, by definition, caters to large audiences). Begun in 2007 with art installations, Sundance’s New Frontier shifted in 2012 with Nonny de la Pena’s Virtual Reality Hunger in Los Angeles, and now the exhibition portion of NF exclusively shows new technologies. I attend every year to discover those projects that stretch the new media -- VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), AI (Artificial…  Read more


Trailer Watch: Khalik Allah’s IWOW (I Walk on Water)

"The path of the math is to go fast" -- not even a year after the release of Khalik Allah's second feature, Black Mother, the filmmaker has just released the first trailer of his new feature, IWOW (I Walk on Water). The film is said to be three hours long, and the trailer length -- seven minutes -- is thus appropriately relational. Here's Allah's statement accompanying the video: Peace. From the most illest iambic pentameter visual photographer. Allah's 5% student doctor. I'm around the 85% again. Straight up Ren & Stimpy. The pitiful situation of my people is the person version of the Hieroglyphic ruins. What profits a man is a noble prophet. 4th Disciple and I rewrote the Proverbs from…  Read more


Trailer Watch: Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch

The meticulous palette, the bursts of Academy ratio, the faux literary origins, the use of the word "divers" -- Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch looks, from this first trailer, to be the most, well, Wes Anderson movie yet. As it's described by its distributor, Fox Searchlight, "The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson." The French Dispatch arrives in theaters July 24, 2020. Read all of Filmmaker's Wes Anderson coverage here, including "10 Lessons on Filmmaking…  Read more


“Power and Organizational Pressure Win Over Logic”: Kazuo Hara on Reiwa Uprising at Rotterdam 2020

Reiwa Uprising

Kazuo Hara has always aligned himself with the political left, but it was nevertheless surprising to hear about his latest film, Reiwa Uprising, which depicts the ascent of Japan’s newest left-wing political party, Reiwa Shinsengumi, from grassroots agitators to seated parliamentarians during the 2019 election. It is not unusual for Hara, best known for Extreme Private Eros (1974) and The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), to take almost a decade or even longer between films, yet Reiwa Uprising follows Sennan Asbestos Disaster by just two years. That expedited time to completion was largely out of necessity: Reiwa Shinsengumi was founded in April 2019, and Japan’s general election campaign lasted only 17 days. As depicted in the beginning of the film,…  Read more


“Can’t Tell That to the Landlord”: Abel Ferrara on The Projectionist, Tommasso and Crack City Terminator

The Projectionist

Abel Ferrara is a hurricane. And like a hurricane, it is close to impossible to anticipate where he’s going to go at any given time. More than that, any hope of influencing the outcome of either is well beyond the limits of human control. Admirers with the good fortune to spend some time with the man can attest that getting Ferrara to stick to the script is largely a fool’s errand. In my case, it was because he had two new movies (The Projectionist, Tommasso) playing at consecutive festivals (Doclisboa, the Viennale) I happened to attend. At a certain point you have to accept that what you will get will, at the very least, be freewheeling in the extreme.  One thing…  Read more


“Sometimes Directing is Not Saying Anything and Just Putting Vodka Shots in Front of People”: Luis López Carrasco on El Año del Descubrimiento at Rotterdam 2020

El Año del Descubrimiento

At a festival as big as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, early screenings are essentially shots in the dark. There is no buzz yet, and most films have little written about them or are by filmmakers whose previous works have received relatively little exposure. I opted on the second day to give Luis López Carrasco’s El Año del Descubrimiento a shot partly because I had heard of his previous feature, El Futuro, but mostly because its 200-minute runtime helped it to stand out amid a slate of films I knew next to nothing about. From the very beginning, its use of split-screen gave me flashbacks to watching—of all things—Chelsea Girls, and I felt confident I had a made good decision.…  Read more



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