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“You Don’t Find Yaks in America”: Joan Chen on Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

Li Xiaolu in Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down GirlLi Xiaolu in Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

An international movie star on screens both big (Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning The Last Emperor) and small (David Lynch’s mega-hit, Twin Peaks), Joan Chen’s film career went behind the camera with her feature directorial debut, Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl. Released in the United States on May 7th, 1999 (the day the U.S. and NATO “accidentally” bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade), Chen’s film was adapted from a novella by Geling Yan and tells the story of the title character, a young girl (Li Xiaolu) who lives with her family in Chengdu and is being forced into Mao’s Down to the Countryside Movement. Eventually befriending Lao Jin (Lopsang), a man who has been castrated and left to serve as her…  Read more

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“Every Change I Make is Then Turned into a Budget and an Invoice”: Editor Mike Sale on Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson on the set of Black Adam (photo by Frank Masi)Dwayne Johnson on the set of Black Adam (photo by Frank Masi)

Your first feature film credit is a memorable experience for anyone who grew up loving movies, but for editor Mike Sale, ACE, that inaugural gig was particularly indelible. Sale made his cinematic debut on the infamous trading card-to-movie adaptation of The Garbage Pail Kids. “It was like a film school—the Garbage Pail Kids film school,” laughed Sale. “It was a fascinating learning experience and I had a lot to learn back then. Just seeing that kind of movie come together was incredible for a young person who had never made a movie before.” Sale graduated from Garbage Pail Kids film school to a distinguished career working on intentionally funny movies, including Bridesmaids and We’re the Millers as well as additional editor credits…  Read more

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“How Could One Document the Unseen?”: Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck on Their Haunted Cinema Eye Honors-Nominated Short, The Last Days of August

A pair of scissors with a red handle and lying on a table illuminated by sunlight coming in through a window.The Last Days of August

In their latest short film, The Last Days of August, which depicts the slow-motion desolation of a Nebraska town economically denuded by online retail, prolific filmmakers Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck create a haunted visual poetry — a blend of formally arresting, incisively spare images and heightened sound design. The two filmmakers, who appeared on our 25 New Faces list in 2010, began as shorts filmmakers and in recent years have directed arresting character-based, documentary-tinged features (God Bless the Child, When She Runs, and, for Machoian solo, The Killing of Two Lovers and The Integrity of Joseph Chambers). But throughout their twined careers, the two have continually revisited the short film form. Recently nominated by the 2023 Cinema Eye Honors in…  Read more

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Everything Everywhere All At Once Leads 2023 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at OnceEverything Everywhere All at Once

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's Everything Everywhere All At Once leads with eight total nods among the nominations for this year's Independent Spirit Awards, which were announced today. They're not the only former 25 New Faces of Film included: Charlotte Wells's engrossing debut Aftersun tallies five total noms; Ricky D'Ambrose's The Cathedral receives three; kogonada is lauded in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories for After Yang; Dean Fleischer Camp (alongside Nick Paley) is nominated in the Best Editing category for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On; Lena Dunham's Catherine Called Birdy snags a Best Screenplay nod; Nikyatu Jusu is recognized as a prospective Someone to Watch with her film Nanny; Isabel Castro lands in the Truer Than Fiction category with…  Read more

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“Nonfiction is the Most Successfully Explored Genre in the Dominican Republic”: Victoria Linares on Lo que se hereda (It Runs in the Family)

Victoria Linares in Lo que se hereda (It Runs in the Family).

Working through familial memory is often as complicated as it is difficult. Dominican filmmaker Victoria Linares embarks on this very process in her feature debut Lo que se hereda (It Runs in the Family), about the near-erasure of her cousin Oscar Torres’s existence in their native Dominican Republic. As the film unfolds, Linares learns how similar she is to Torres, despite the two being separated by an entire generation.  Lo que se hereda is hinged upon Linares's personal discovery of her cousin’s unproduced screenplays and film reviews he wrote in the ’50s during Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. From 1930 until his assassination in 1961, Trujillo’s regime carried out waves of ethnic cleansing, restricted human rights and suppressed all political dissent in the…  Read more

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Judy Becker’s Top Ten Films (That Most Influenced Her Work as a Production Designer)

Blade Runner

I came to production design as someone who has always loved movies.  I also loved art, design, architecture and photography, so discovering that I could have a career that combined all my loves was one of the greatest moments of my life.   I have a realism-based approach to filmmaking — most of the worlds I create are fictional, but within the context of the film my goal is to make them feel real, grounded, worn, authentic. If a director wants a stylized or surreal approach I would need to find a way to dirty it up and add imperfections to make it feel real.  Believability and realism in the context of the story are the things I care about most, and…  Read more

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Biscuits, Blackwings and Busby Berkeley: Cinematographer Matthew Libatique on Don’t Worry Darling

Florence Pugh in Don't Worry DarlingFlorence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling

When choosing a project, cinematographer Matthew Libatique says, “My first priority is that whatever I'm doing next is different than what I did last.” That guiding principle is how one bounces from Requiem for a Dream to Josie and the Pussycats, Noah to Straight Outta Compton. The two-time Oscar nominee’s quest for variety found him wrapping the Netflix musical The Prom, the Stepford Wives-esque thriller Don’t Worry Darling and the Darren Aronofsky-directed drama The Whale in the span of a calendar year. In Darling, Florence Pugh and Harry Styles star as a young couple that relocates to an almost too idyllic 1950s suburban enclave in a desert that turns out to be not quite what it seems. With the film currently available…  Read more

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“The Complexity of a Disorder”: Svetislav Dragomirovic on I’m People, I Am Nobody

Svetislav Dragomirovic's I'm People, I Am Nobody

Svetislav Dragomirovic’s debut feature I’m People, I Am Nobody is a film I wasn’t prepared to watch. From its coy DOC NYC synopsis, we learn it’s the story of a 60-year-old retired porn performer from Serbia named Stevan who’s found himself stuck, Kafka-style, in a Maltese jail, accused of indecent exposure. What we don’t learn from that brief description is that Stevan is actually Dragomirovic’s father-in-law, and that the filmmaker received a series of “audio-letters” that Stevan had sent from prison, which form the basis of I’m People, I Am Nobody, an experimental collage that takes us on a shocking journey through Stevan’s twisting (and often twisted) mind. To learn all about the project, including dealing with a family member suffering…  Read more

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