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

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 in both cases I felt like I was going mad, and even more so when I heard that the first question for The Lighthouse‘s cast and crew at their first screening was why is A24 is so very special (surely that’s not on Willem Dafoe to answer.) Admittedly, Adam Sandler shaking Kevin Garnett’s hand onstage after both were intro’d by Josh Safdie is peak 2019 the-algorithm’s-gone-wonky, but for sheer weirdness logo-mania that can’t be explained…  Read more

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“Just Keep Asking”: True Crime Filmmakers Talk About Pushing A Classic Genre In New And More Ethical Directions At IFP Week 2019

I Love You, Now Die

True crime has been having a moment, as they say, for a while now. In a way it’s never not been having a moment, but the genre has rapidly evolved in the digital age, when more information is available to more people, when conspiracy theorists run wild on Reddit and 4chan, and when there’s simply more content being produced. All this means not only more crime content, but also shows and movies that are more thoughtful, more creative, and even more conscious of ethical or moral quandaries that may crop up in the process of covering true crimes. The panel “Killer Ideas,” at IFP Week 2019, brought together a mix of the old guard and the new. The former was…  Read more

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“Technology Has Come A Long Way”: Todd Douglas Miller And E. Chai Vasarhelyi On Going Big With Apollo 11 And Free Solo At IFP Week 2019

Apollo 11 (courtesy of Neon/CNN Films)

Documentaries have been making bank at the box office the last couple years, which is heartening for anyone worried the blockbusters are the only game in town. Still, you don’t necessarily have to see small, intimate fare like Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG and Three Identical Strangers on a giant screen. You can’t say the same about Free Solo and Apollo 11. One finds cutting-edge cameras hanging alongside mountain climber Alex Honnold; the other unearths 65mm footage of the eponymous spaceflight. Both played IMAX theaters, and they were an even better fit on the world’s biggest screens than the latest Marvel extravaganza. Two of the creators behind these twin achievements came to IFP Week 2019 for a “Tête-à-Tête” chat:…  Read more

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“You Get To Be In Places You Have No Business Being”: Political Filmmakers Talk About Telling Big Stories With A Small Focus At IFP Week 2019

(l to r: Jehane Noujaim, Rachel Lears, Alison Clayman, Christopher Booker)

For documentarians, especially ones who focus on politics, it’s not enough to have a strong and vital subject. You need a way to get audiences engaged. The participants at the “Politically Engaged” panel at IFP Week 2019 know that all too well. Take Jehane Noujaim. Along with her creative partner Karim Amer, she makes docs about hot topics: the Egyptian Crisis in 2013’s The Square, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal in this year’s The Great Hack. But they’re not expository info dumps. They’re verité, following people, not merely ideas. Noujaim realized that earlier on. She got her start working with the legendary non-fiction team of Chris Hegedus and the late D.A. Pennebaker. One of her first films with them was Startup.com,…  Read more

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‘100 Percent It’s Not A Fad’: Jon M. Chu And Other Asian-American Creatives On The Post-‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Bump

(l to r, Alice Wu, Teresa Hsiao, John M. Chu, Christina Chou, Andrew Chow)

The IFP Week 2019 panel “Staying in the Room,” which brought together four Asian-Americans involved in the entertainment industry, happened the weekend of two milestones. For one, Hustlers, co-starring Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu, overperformed, nabbing the top spot at the North American box office. The other was news that comedian Bowen Yang was named the first Asian-American to be cast on Saturday Night Live, ever. The latter was overshadowed by footage of another new SNL hire, Shane Gillis, saying racist stuff about Asians, including a slur that was presumed to have died out with the last generation or two. But apart from some obligatory venting — “Yeah, f— that guy,” quipped big time Hollywood director Jon M. Chu —…  Read more

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Diverse Creators, a Bridge to the Publishing Community, and First-Time Filmmakers in the Project Forum: IFP Talks the 2019 IFP Week

Kicking off today in and around DUMBO New York is IFP Week, the yearly annual conference and coproduction market produced by Independent Filmmaker Project. Today’s events include a day of panels and talks at BRIC, with the event then moving to IFP’s home, the Made in New York Media Center, as well as other nearby locations.  In recent years IFP Week has developed an identity far from its origins as a scrappy, sometimes over-the-top market for finished independent films unspooling at the Angelika’s basement theaters. The heart of the event is now the much more sober Project Forum, which connects independent makers of features, documentaries and independent episodic work to a wide spectrum of U.S. and international producers and buyers.…  Read more

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