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Berlinale 2020 Dispatch 2: The Salt of Tears, Siberia, Undine

The Salt of Tears

At the risk of being canceled, I’ll admit that in the days since I watched The Salt of Tears, I’ve found myself wondering, “Who will make films like this when Philippe Garrel is gone?” (The best answer I’ve heard so far: Louis Garrel.) By “this” I mean a stereotypically oh-so-French comedy with an existential bent. Or a season in the life of a dour-faced, impoverished young artist who beds every beautiful woman he meets and is too young and too myopic to realize he’s a gaping asshole. Or the story of a boy who loved, disappointed and mourns for his father. Or the perspective of an aging man who, to quote another now-aging man, wishes he knew what he knows…  Read more

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“VR Can Be So Many Things”: Diversion cinema Co-founder Camille Lopato on Distributing VR

A VR gallery designed by Diversion Cinema

Frequent visitors to major film festivals will have spent the last few years tracking the improvement not only of virtual and augmented reality pieces, but also of how they're shown. Throughput has increased, displays and decorations gone from relatively slipshod to professional, and most recently entire groups of viewers have been accommodated simultaneously in group viewing sessions through synchronized headsets. In the meantime, commercial venues—some permanent, some pop-ups—have sprung up around the globe, offering VR games and films as part of a new wave of location-based entertainment (LBE). The Paris-based Diversion cinema is at the forefront of developments like these. Founded in 2016 by Camille and Marc Lopato, the company opened a distribution division in 2018 to exclusively handle virtual reality…  Read more

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“Send the Actors to Set with Everything They Need For Their Bodies”: Costume Designer Keri Langerman Dresses The Photograph

After her mother passes away, Mae (Issa Rae) finds letters and a photograph left to her in a safety deposit box. The letters recall an unrequited romance between her mother, Christina Eames (Chante Adams), and a man Mae’s never heard of, Isaac Jefferson (Y’lan Noel). What got between them, mostly, was just space. Christina moved to New York to pursue the kind of career you can’t ambling clammy in the heat. Isaac stayed home. This is a timeless romantic dilemma. As The Photograph shows what happened between Christina and Isaac, the same dynamic recurs in the present between her daughter Mae and Michael (Lakeith Stanfield), a journalist. We watch wondering what exactly unfolded then, and what of it might repeat…  Read more

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“Each Film Speaks with its Own Voice”: An Interview with Composer Nathan Halpern

After Parkland

It's been quite a year for composer Nathan Halpern. He had four films at last year's Tribeca Film Festival—the feature-length documentaries After Parkland and One Child Nation and the narrative features Goldie and Swallow—and while he hasn't slacked in his new output, all four of these projects have gone on to impressive post-festival activity. One Child Nation (directed by Nanfu Wang, a previous collaborator of Halpern's) premiered at Sundance in 2019, and was acquired by Amazon Studios for a theatrical run in August; it's now streaming on Amazon Prime. And three of the films are hitting theaters right now: After Parkland (directed by Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman) was acquired by Kino Lorber and ABC Documentaries in November and began a national theatrical run on February 12 to…  Read more

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“I Think the Public Deserves More Transparency”: Brian Knappenberger on His Horrifying Netflix Docu-Series, The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez

The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is a six-part Netflix docu-series from Brian Knappenberger (Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press) that delves into one of the most horrific crimes to hit Los Angeles headlines in recent years -- the death of eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend after years of physical torture and emotional abuse. Taking as its starting point the courtroom drama of death penalty defendant Isauro Aguirre (after one too many outbursts from Gabriel’s mom Pearl Fernandez the accused murderers are ultimately tried separately), the series soon becomes something else entirely -- a Kafka-esque saga of systemic culpability ensnaring everyone from Board of Supervisors politicos to overworked Department of Children and Family Services…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 98: Zora Howard

Zora Howard is a juggernaut. She stars in Premature and co-wrote the script with director Rashaad Ernesto Green. Her performance has an assured authenticity and a new brand of quiet desperation that is remarkable for a first feature. She’s been an award-winning creator for years though. Plays, poems, spoken word performances. Her play Stew just closed off-broadway to great acclaim. I gush about it and ask where her love of words began, and which of these various paths of creation she’s anxious to continue down. She talks about the necessary step of taking off the writer’s hat in order to perform in the present moment, and much more. Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including…  Read more

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“No One Was Willing to Sign the Check”: Rashaad Ernesto Green and Zora Howard on Premature, Shooting 16mm and Self-Financing

Zora Howard and Joshua Boone in Premature

Included in the 2010 edition of 25 New Faces of Independent Film, director Rashaad Ernesto Green has been sitting with his intricate story of love had and love lost, Premature, for quite a while now. The original short film, made while Green was a film student at NYU Tisch, was described in his 25 New Face profile as being “classically built,” telling the story of a “teenager who, having found no support for her pregnancy from either her disaffected family and brutal community, resorts to drastic, near-tragic measures to free herself of responsibility.” Green’s leading lady in the short, his Harlem neighbor Zora Howard, returns as said teenager for the expanded feature-length version, this time as both actress and co-screenwriter. Shot…  Read more

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