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Partners ‘Til the End: Lucifer Showrunners Ildy Modrovich and Joe Henderson

Lucifer showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich

“I’m proud of the fact that we have a show that has the weirdest track ever,” says Lucifer co-showrunner Joe Henderson says. “You can have a show that airs for six seasons that people just watch or a show that people fought tooth and nail [for] to get the ending they wanted. And we fought to give them the ending that they deserved.” The uniquely fraught road to get Lucifer to the end of his journey is intrinsically intertwined with the show’s sudden premature cancellation from Fox in 2018 and a rowdy social media campaign to resurrect the show at Netflix, its present home. Though the show had steady views but was not as popular as others in its genre at…  Read more

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Headroom, Banding and General F-Stops: DP Haris Zambarloukos on Shooting Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast

Jude Hill on the set of Belfast(Photo by Rob Youngson/ courtesy of Focus Features)

Adorned with a wooden sword and a garbage can lid shield, nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill) begins Belfast fighting imaginary dragons, cloaked in the bliss of summer. That idyllic youthful revelry is ruptured by an explosion. That blast—and what follows—are based on the childhood remembrances of writer-director Kenneth Branagh, whose family was forced to grapple with the prospect of leaving its tightly-knit neighborhood after sectarian violence erupted in Northern Ireland in the summer of 1969. It’s a dilemma cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos understood well. Born on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Zambarloukos and his family departed following a 1972 military coup and subsequent invasion by the Turkish army.  “I had a similar history as Ken to some extent,” said Zambarloukos. “My father was…  Read more

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“The Price Has Dropped to What Per Pound?”: Mario Furloni and Kate McLean on Their Marijuana Legalization Drama, Freeland

Krisha Fairchild in Freeland

The Emerald Triangle—three counties in Northern California— represents the largest region to produce cannabis in the United States. Even so, it hasn’t been a free-for-all for growers and sellers. As pot farming has become legalized in select parts of the west coast, the push for governmentally regulated weed distribution has become an expensive business to invest in, with required permits and enforced rules pushing out more experienced old-timers who made a habit of keeping things affordable and independent. As their businesses are crippled by state legalization, these farmers are forced to take desperate measures or risk losing their livelihood.  Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s narrative feature debut, Freeland, places us in one such county (Humboldt) with one such farmer, Devi (Krisha…  Read more

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“We Found Ways to Combine Drama Therapy with Filmmaking into Something New”: Director Robert Greene on the Netflix Documentary Procession

Procession (Photo: Netflix)

At the root of the word “procession” is “process” — really a fitting description for any Robert Greene film. But the title of  the nonfiction veteran’s latest foray into character-collaborative doc-making has other meanings. It nods specifically to the Holy Spirit’s procession and also to the dictionary definition of people moving forward, a march that includes the risk-taking filmmaker himself. Procession (which premiered at Telluride and just hit Netflix November 19) is perhaps Greene’s boldest cinematic move yet. Once again the director (and "filmmaker-in-chief" at the University of Missouri’s Murray Center for Documentary Journalism) blurs the lines between narrative and nonfiction, casting six male survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests and clergy in a creation of their own making. It’s…  Read more

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“It Always Seems That the Film Comes Together When You Just Go About Doing It”: Abel Ferrara on the Ethan Hawke-Starring Zeros and Ones

Zeros and Ones

“Jesus was just another soldier, another war casualty — but on who’s side?” That’s military man JJ, played by Ethan Hawke, in voiceover as he walks the COVID-deserted streets of Rome in Abel Ferrara’s new Zeros and Ones. There’s a terrorist plot to blow up the Vatican but JJ’s got a more personal (and possibly intertwined) mission as well: his twin revolutionary brother, Justin (also Hawke), has been captured, and JJ’s nocturnal journey is an attempt to rescue him and possibly find some sort of spiritual salvation along the way. But the above is just the most reductive parsing of a narrative that fully embraces not only the destabilizing ambiguities of a world suddenly upended but that world’s clarion call to…  Read more

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DOC NYC 2021: The Mole, Life of Crime 1984-2020 and Mr. Bachmann and His Class

Mr. Bachmann and His Class (courtesy of Madonnen Film)

Mads Brügger’s feature directorial debut, The Red Chapel, took a Tom Green-via-Sacha Baron-Cohen approach to infiltrating North Korea, with the director finagling himself and two comics — both adopted from North Korea, one with spastic paralysis — into the country. Given that it’s not hard to make an actual absurd environment appear absurd on screen, he emerged with fairly pointless cringe comedy: plenty of awkwardness all round but no real surprises. So it’s interesting to hear Brügger admit at the start of The Mole (initially a three-part series, shown at DOC NYC in its presumably final two-episode form) that The Red Chapel, while an international breakthrough for him, was essentially a failure in terms of producing new information. Since then, the documentarian provocateur and…  Read more

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“While I Knew the Music Inside Out There Was So Much I Didn’t Know About the Story Behind the Album”: Alison Klayman on Jagged

Jagged (Photo: HBO/Music Box)

As perhaps one of the few people on the planet who managed to nightclub through the '90s without any awareness of shooting star Alanis Morissette (her music just didn’t penetrate my punk/goth/new wave bubble) I came to Alison Klayman’s latest doc Jagged, part of HBO’s new Music Box series, with a positively clean slate. The film is an in-depth look at the Canadian-American musician-singer-songwriter-actress through an exhaustive amount of archival material, juxtaposed with straightforward interviews with the mercurial Morissette herself. (For those also in a Morissette-defying bubble, this would be a good time to state that the musician is not all that thrilled with the final product - something I find truly perplexing. My big takeaway from Jagged? Morissette is…  Read more

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“My Parents Supported Me Making This Art about Them”: Nira Burstein on Charm Circle

Charm Circle

After appearing in the international competition at Sheffield DocFest 2021 (where I then worked as a programmer) and being hailed by press, juries, and audiences alike as one of the major highlights of the festival, Nira Burstein’s Charm Circle went on to international festivals around the world. I finally caught up with Burstein in Lisbon, after the film’s premiere at Doclisboa, one of Europe's finest documentary festivals. After COVID prevented me—but not Nira!—from attending Sheffield in June, and with that incarnation of the festival now decisively a thing of the past, I was eager to catch up with her to dig into the dynamics of this special film ahead of its New York premiere at DOC NYC this Sunday the…  Read more

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