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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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FIDMarseille 2020: Night Vision, Shady River, Pajeú

Night Vision

After Visions du Réel, FIDMarseille is the second festival this year I’ve never had a chance to physically attend that I can now at least virtually explore. Compared with VdR’s capacious slate and wide variety of nonfiction approaches, FIDMarseille (now no longer a strictly nonfiction festival) has a reputation for defaulting on the side of formal severity, with zero time for crowd-pleasing softer fare to balance it out. That reputation is in line with what I’ve sampled so far. (Note, too, that there was a physical, in-person edition of FIDMarseille. The United States could never.) I started with Chilean director Carolina Moscoso’s Night Vision (Visión nocturna), a debut feature operating on two reluctantly converging tracks. One is a video diary assembled…  Read more

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The Next Day: Writer/Director Amy Seimetz and Actress Kate Sheil on the Eerie, Darkly Comic Anxiety Dream of She Dies Tomorrow

KateLyn Sheil in She Dies Tomorrow (Photo by Jay Keitel)

“It’s so great that you own a house,” biologist Jane (Jane Adams) says to sister Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) by phone early in Amy Seimetz’s trippy drama of psychological contagion, She Dies Tomorrow. “This is the best thing you could have done.” Amy has only just moved in, boxes are everywhere, but a new L.A. mortgage hasn’t quelled whatever demons have pushed her to a tremulous and despairing state—Jane can hear it in her voice. “I’ll come over,” Jane says. “Don’t do anything you might regret. Go for a walk. Or why don’t you try watching a movie?” “A movie’s 90 minutes,” Amy replies. In the time it takes Jane to arrive, Amy drinks, plays Mozart’s Requiem again and again, changes…  Read more

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