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“This Movie is a Cry for Help from the Members of Congress to the American People”: Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme on Their HBO doc The Swamp

The Swamp

To call HBO’s The Swamp a thrilling character-based portrait of three conservative white guys might seem oxymoronic, but in the capable hands and open minds of co-directors Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme (Get Me Roger Stone) it’s a completely apt description. The doc is an unexpected, up-close look at the daily D.C. lives of a trio of House members who few subscribers to HBO would ever conceive of voting for: far right-wingers Matt Gaetz (R-FL 1st District), Thomas Massie (R-KY 4th District), and Ken Buck (R-CO 4th District). In other words, it’s exactly the caricature-busting film that progressives (like myself) really need to see. With startling access, the filmmakers follow along as these Republican rebels fight — and usually fail — to “drain…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 120: Paapa Essiedu

The brilliant young British actor Paapa Essiedu speaks about the work with wisdom that belies his years. He plays Kwame on Michaela Coel’s groundbreaking new HBO series I May Destroy You. In 2016, his Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company received great acclaim. In this episode he compares those two characters, who are each facing defining moments in their lives, and talks about the “conscious unconsciousness” necessary to embody them. He discusses the various ways curiosity is useful, and why it’s so important to immerse yourself in the world of the story. Plus lots 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…  Read more

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How to Shoot a Film in a Global Pandemic

On the set of 18 1/2

If you’re going to get stuck shooting a film in a global pandemic, it helps if you’re already pretty much self-quarantined in a beach resort and living off product-placement steak, wine and coffee. That’s the situation I found myself in on my film, 18½, which we started shooting in early March, 2020. What could possibly go wrong? Foot Bumps and Elbow Knocks 18½ is a 70s-era Watergate conspiracy thriller/dark comedy we were filming in Greenport, New York, which is on the tip of the North Fork of Long Island (“Nawth Fawk,” as it’s known locally), about three hours from Manhattan, or a couple ferry rides north of the Hamptons. Our cast and crew all stayed at the Silver Sands Motel and Cottages,…  Read more

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TIFF Announces Its 50-Film 2020 Lineup, with Pictures from Chloé Zhao, Spike Lee and More

One Night in Miami (courtesy Amazon Studios)

TIFF co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente have announced the 50 films that will comprise the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. Necessarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's TIFF is very different edition -- the film count is down from 2019's 300+, and most press and industry will attend virtually -- but there are still many anticipated world premieres and diverse international offerings. “We began this year planning for a 45th Festival much like our previous editions,” said Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF, in a press release, “but along the way we had to rethink just about everything. This year’s lineup reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand new things this year, and there’s…  Read more

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New Expressions in Horror: Relic’s Natalie Erika James and Deep Tissue’s Meredith Alloway on Career Beginnings and the Power of the Short Film

Natalie Erika James (left) and Meredith Alloway, each on set

Launching a career with a strong short is a hallmark of the independent film scene. The best shorts of the year commonly attract attention from festival programmers, managers, producers, agents. And in addition to generating recognition and industry interest, many shorts do more — they establish not only a voice but also subject matter their makers go on to explore with even more depth, nuance and subtlety in future works. Currently in release from IFC Midnight and attracting much-deserved attention is Natalie Erika James’s Relic, which artfully lodges an exploration of dementia and elder care within a genuinely scary haunted-house horror story. Starring Emily Mortimer as the daughter trying to aid her widowed mother (Robyn Nevin), who is succumbing to the…  Read more

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“If There Ever Was a Time For a Film about How Everyday Heroes Can Fight Back”: Eli B. Despres and Elyse Steinberg on The Fight

The Fight

If you remain unconvinced American civil liberties are under attack at an unprecedented degree, just wait until you see what the presidential administration cooks up next week (and the week after that). As every day brings a slew of new xenophobic tweets and attacks on the United States Constitution courtesy of Donald Trump, the public display of abuse of power has never been so transparent and, frighteningly, tolerated by constituents. As immigrant families seeking asylum continue to get thrown in cages, American protestors are thrown into unmarked vans) and reproductive and LGBTQ rights are challenged and erased, the need for a unified voice to push back against the President’s vitriolic policies is essential. And just when you thought things couldn’t get…  Read more

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