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“Black Life Has Always Been Better Than Black Cinema”: Documentary Makers Speak at Full Frame’s “Black Frame: New Voices of Documentary” A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

One of the few upsides to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival’s necessary pivot to digital was the smart decision to take its A&E IndieFilms Speakeasy discussions online with the rest of the fest - and one step further. Now these always inspiring panels have been expanded to year-round, free virtual events. While the palpable camaraderie at this southernly hospitable fest unfortunately can’t be replicated through Zoom, the insight from the many brilliant doc-making minds Full Frame consistently brings together still shines through. And the most recent edition “Black Frame: New Voices of Documentary,” which took place January 13, proved to be a gem. (A video of the event will be posted on the site shortly.) The panel was deftly moderated…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 138: Nicole Beharie

Some actors go through a transformation to the point where the word “performance” feels inadequate. “Embodiment” is more apt. Nicole Beharie transforms into Turquoise Jones in Channing Godfrey People’s film Miss Juneteenth. It’s a wonder to behold. On this episode, she talks about the immersive preparation work that went into her Gotham Award-winning performance, how the opportunity to take her time and “own the space” affected her work in a deep way, and the substitutions necessary to create the motherly bond so central to the film. Plus we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of unanswered questions in a performance, and how simply loving people and life actually helps the work. Back To One can be found wherever you get your…  Read more

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A Process of Subtraction: Sean Durkin on His Disquieting Family Drama, The Nest

The Nest

A man in a quiet suburban home makes a phone call. He stands by the window and holds the phone to his ear. The light on his face, the reflections from the window…. It’s morning. No one else is up. This seemingly innocuous moment could lead to any number of things, but, in Sean Durkin’s The Nest, an early-dawn overseas call prompts a life-changing shift for Rory, played to the hilt by a frightfully self-possessed and seemingly effortless Jude Law, his wife Allison (a remarkably calculated Carrie Coon), and their two children, the adolescent Sam and prepubescent Benjamin, (Oona Roche and Charlie Shotwell respectively). On the morning in question, Rory, coffee cup in hand, wakes his wife with news: It’s time…  Read more

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How to Cut a Trailer Redux: The Styles and Trends Reshaping the Art of Film Advertising

Kyle MacLachlan and Ethan Hawke in Tesla (courtesy of IFC Films)

The following article was originally published in Filmmaker's Fall, 2020 print edition. We’re drowning in entertainment. Dozens of streamers, from mainstream catnip like Netflix and Disney+ to niche platforms like the Criterion Channel, each offer hundreds of feature films, limited series and TV shows. National theater chains like AMC and arthouse cinemas like the Alamo Drafthouse—at least before and hopefully after the pandemic—serve up fresh options every week on more than 40,000 screens. And legacy networks on basic cable, from NBC to TBS, continue to deliver a firehose of prerecorded content and live broadcasts every day. How to choose? Simple: Watch the trailer. And by that, I mean trailer, teaser, TV spot, Instagram ad, YouTube preroll, you name it. These bite-sized free samples…  Read more

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“I Work in the Streets — That’s My Studio”: Ernie Gehr on His Lower East Side Trilogy

Lower East Side Trilogy

Screening on The Museum of Modern Art's Virtual Cinema through January 21, Ernie Gehr's Lower East Side Trilogy combines three of his recent pieces: Autumn (completed 2017), Aproposessexstreetmarket (2018), and Circling Essex Crossing (2018). MoMA describes the trilogy as a sequel to Gehr's Essex Street Quartet, currently screening in an installation on the Museum's fourth floor. For Essex Street Quartet, Gehr reshaped footage he had taken some 45 years earlier. The Trilogy comprises new material that documents a rapidly changing Lower East Side. Gehr spoke with Filmmaker by phone from his home in Brooklyn. Filmmaker: How have you weathered the Covid-19 pandemic? Ernie Gehr: I have been very fortunate. It hasn’t affected my work. Last year, 2020, was actually one of the most productive…  Read more

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New Authority: The Film Set Job of the COVID-19 Compliance Supervisor

A COVID compliant set

The following article on film-set COVID-19 safety departments was originally published in Filmmaker's Fall, 2020 print issue.  When Heather Drake-Bianchi landed her first job as a COVID-19 compliance supervisor, the New York–based set medic didn’t realize the gravity of the responsibility she’d been given. “At first, I thought I was just going to be like a ’set medic plus,’ Drake-Bianchi said. “Then, on day one of the shoot, when we did the first morning safety briefing, one of the producers said, ’Just so everybody knows, whatever Heather says goes. She has the capacity to shut this entire shoot down.’” Drake-Bianchi’s epiphany came in late July, shortly after filming was permitted to resume in New York after three months of COVID-driven shutdowns. California had…  Read more

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