Economy of the Arcane: Pedro Costa on Vitalina Varela

Ventura in Vitalina Varela (courtesy of Grasshopper Film)

Pedro Costa will not separate films from how they are made. We cannot escape that “how” from what we are seeing on screen, so we must make films the hard way. It is not enough for us to get them made: We must know our technicians closely, see that they are compensated fairly, ensure that our project is optimized for our tools and that those tools only operate at their zenith. Ease, Costa warns, is the sure sign of a “trap,” that, if succumbed to, will expose one’s work to “bullshit,” a word he does not use lightly. If we slack in our labor, that sloth contaminates the groundwater, and the film does not recover. So, we work harder.  But Costa’s…  Read more


International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020: The Gaze of the Old Filmmaker

Corman’s Eyedrops Got Me Too Crazy

Tyger Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye,  Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? — William Blake As one of the centerpiece programs at the 49th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), "The Tyger Burns" was a canny display of un-hipness. What a joy it was to pay repeated witness to such a mammoth series of movies so gleefully, so wilfully out of touch. What better way to undercut the widespread love of emerging voices, new talents and young geniuses than to turn to aging, even senile artists who have either fallen out of fashion or lost the international spotlight. Celebrate boomer filmmakers in a festival environment obsessed with the vitality of youth? Isn’t the artistic realm…  Read more


Sundance 2020 Final Dispatch: Softie, Farewell Amor, A Machine for Viewing, Infinitely Yours

Charlie Shackleton in A Machine for Viewing (courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Previously, when attending a premiere heavy festival like Sundance, I was usually lucky enough to be present as part of a team of programmers. We divided the screenings between all of us to cover as many of the films as possible. (There are spreadsheets and rating systems involved.) Watching films as a freelancer, I realized over the first few days at Sundance that I was playing it safe by watching films by filmmakers I was already familiar with for the guarantee that at least the film would appear finished at the screening. For programmers working at festivals like Sundance, what they are watching through submissions are often rough, unfinished works with temp music, graphics, credits, sound and even voiceover. This…  Read more


“War Is a Source of Human Nature”: Kantemir Balagov on His Women-Centered Period Two-Hander, Beanpole

Beanpole (Photo: Liana Mukhamedzanova)

Exquisitely grueling yet fiercely humane, Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, an astounding Russian period drama, cements the artistically mature director as a prodigy of international cinema moving towards an auspicious career. At age 28, Balagov has had his first two features premiered at Cannes with both earning prizes in the Un Certain Regard section.  Situated in 1945 Leningrad among the ashes of World War II, Beanpole, which was also shortlisted for the Best International Film Academy Award, explores the harsh aftermath of the conflict through the tortured friendship between Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko) and Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), two women who served in the military and now work as nurses at a hospital for wounded soldiers. Balagov derives unorthodox tenderness from their inseparable bond based…  Read more


Back to One, Episode 97: Zoey Deutch

Acting wunderkind Zoey Deutch returns to the podcast on the occasion of the release of Buffaloed, the raucous indie she stars in (and produced) where she gets to flex her high octane comedy chops. We get into the weeds discussing comedy performance, she talks about striving to make her characters relatable, and about her love for auditioning (despite the hiccups). I delicately ask her what makes up the bulk of her now legendary script binder and she graciously explains. Plus much much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. And if you're enjoying what you are hearing, please subscribe and rate us! Follow Back To One on Instagram.


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



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