CineCina Film Festival Announces Second Edition Line-Up

Elia Suleiman in It Must Be Heaven

This is the second year for NYC’s CineCina Film Festival, which is flying relatively under-the-radar relative to its titles. Per its press releases, CineCina is “the only New York-based film festival dedicated to promoting excellent Chinese films,” and it’s true that the lineup features a smattering of new Chinese films. But it also has one Cannes premiere, Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven, that wasn’t at NYFF; the overdue first NY screening of Yuri Bykov’s Russian class-conscious Die Hard riff The Factory; a reprise screening of NYFF selection The Wild Goose Lake (at $20 a pop, $10 cheaper than tickets for main slate NYFF selections); and screenings of new digital restorations of the landmark Turkish film Yol and John Woo’s The Killer. Via the festival press release,…  Read more


Filming in the Golf Cart Capital of the World: Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe on Greener Grass

Greener Grass

The cinematic equivalent of the popular improv exercise “Yes, and…,” Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe’s feature directorial debut, Greener Grass, opens on an extreme instance of absurdity and gobsmackingly builds from there. In picturesque suburbia, competition runs thick amongst cutthroat nuclear families, neighborhood pool parties are all the rage and mom and dad travel to and from soccer practice via the tacky family golf cart. Co-starring the film’s directors as housewives who develop a grating rivalry, the film opens with Jill (DeBoer) giving up custody of her baby daughter to Lisa (Luebbe). Why does Jill do this? Because Lisa expresses interest in the child, and who is Jill to get in the way? After all, Jill has another kid, a son…  Read more


Strand Releasing’s “30/30 Vision”: Premiering New iPhone Shorts by Ira Sachs, James Schamus and Elisabeth Subrin

Strand Releasing, the inventive, carefully curated independent distributor known for its release of both American and international arthouse auteurs, turns 30 this year, and to celebrate it has invited its filmmaker friends to create short iPhone films that speak in various ways to Strand’s mission and film culture today. I’m happy to premiere here exclusively at Filmmaker shorts by Ira Sachs, whose Frankie opens this Friday, October 25th; Indignation director, screenwriter and producer James Schamus; and Shulie and A Woman, A Part director Elisabeth Subrin. Previously released have been shorts by Fatih Akin and Karim Ainouz. Comments Strand co-founder Marcus Hu, “The genesis for the idea arose one day over lunch with [MoMA Chief Curator, Film] Raj Roy. Raj came…  Read more


“If You Have Racist Beliefs, They Want You to Say So at Dinner”: Yaara Sumeruk on Her Doc Short, If We Say That We Are Friends

Making its world premiere at the recently concluded Camden International Film Festival was New York-based, Argentinian/South African director Yaara Sumeruk’s short doc, If We Say That We Are Friends, which, in a taut 17 minutes, sits the viewer down into the midst of a warmly unusual conversation on race taking place across dinner tables in the Cape Town South African township Khayelitsha. The organizers of Dine with Khayelitsha arrange for relatively well-off South Afrikaners from the city to hear first-hand about life in the townships by joining residents for dinners of African food in their homes. (Formed in 2015, the program has since expanded to townships beyond Khayelitsha.) In this smart and assured short film, Sumeruk, whose work traverses doc,…  Read more


“It Was a Story that Played Out Almost as a Psychological Thriller and Yet it was True”: Ed Perkins on Tell Me Who I Am

Tell Me Who I Am (photo: Netflix)

Tell Me Who I Am, the Telluride-premiering feature from Academy Award-nominated (for Best Documentary Short Subject) director Ed Perkins, digs into the stranger-than-fiction saga of Alex Lewis, one half of an identical set of twins, who at the age of 18 lost his memory in a motorcycle accident. Upon awakening from a coma the only person Alex was able to recognize was his brother Marcus — the mirror image he would come to rely on to relearn pretty much everything, from the mundane (down to brushing his teeth) to his very sense of self. In turn, Marcus devotes himself wholeheartedly to the project of healing his sibling both physically and mentally. So much so that he makes the fateful decision…  Read more


“A Black and White Movie in a Stupid Aspect Ratio”: Robert Eggers on The Lighthouse

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse

Eulogized debuts draw ravenous, patient cynics, who stalk the scent of a fledgling’s success to their second movie, hoping their foe might slip. Robert Eggers, a name of contention after headlines announced he would remake Nosferatu (TBD) before his Sundance debut The Witch was released theatrically for audiences to decide if he were worthy themselves, has made his second move.  The Lighthouse, a sophomore effort especially susceptible to readied blows, has made it back with critics on the festival circuit and will now see appraisal from the mainstream on its theatrical bout. But the film expels farts and sailor vulgarity, an impenetrable raunch and silliness that upsets its cinephilic self consciousness and the cynics’ fight to declare it one big affectation. …  Read more


Gemini Man: Tax Credits at 120fps

Will Smith in Gemini Man

There are only 14 US theaters capable of showing Gemini Man at 120 frames per second—only in 2K, not the intended 4K (Ang Lee is making movies for the future). Going to one of those 14, NYC’s AMC Lincoln Square, is disorienting even before the movie begins. The Dolby theater has its bass jacked to the point that a bumper encouraging the purchase of soda and popcorn generates rumbles so intense the seat pulsates beneath, as if an ice cube dropping into an ice-cold Coke should equal an earthquake right below—it’s all very silly and hyperbolic, and Gemini Man (to its infinite credit) does not resort to similar overkill to literally shake viewers up. Another pre-show bumper is designed to show that laser…  Read more


31st Annual NewFest to Feature 160+ LGBT Films, With an Emphasis on Marginalized Global Voices

Music for Bleeding Hearts

Two teen girls lust for each other in post-Dust Bowl Oklahoma. A pregnant writer visits her parents in China and confronts her father’s closeted homosexuality. A Filipina punk-rocker is sent from Manila to the countryside and falls in love while attending an all-girls Catholic school. A meek farmhand and a police officer become lovers despite the oppressive anti-gay legislation in rural Siberia. A trans TSA agent grapples with the prospect of de-transitioning in the face of ostracization.  These varied narratives account for a mere fraction of the films that will screen at the 31st annual NewFest, also known as New York’s LGBT Film Festival, which will run from October 23-29, with screenings held at Cinépolis Chelsea, the SVA Theater, and…  Read more


Festivals & Events

This Action Lies

TIFF 2019, Last Days: Uncut Gems, Atlantis, Jallikattu, This Action Lies

At Marriage Story‘s TIFF premiere, the audience applauded the Netflix logo; a night later, the same happened for A24 at Uncut Gems. The latter makes slightly more sense—rightly or wrongly (no comment), A24 has coherent brand cachet in positioning itself as Art-Fixated rather than purely profit-motivated—but…  Read more

on Sep 16, 2019



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