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“A Dog That Had a Lot of Stress in His Life”: Dog Trainer Massimo Perla on Dogman

Marcello Fonte in Dogman

Matteo Garrone’s Dogman, a deceptively simple story of a professional dogsitter’s attempt to achieve recognition among gangsters in a small Italian town, reminds me of the great “art-house” films I watched when I was a teenager: The Magician, La Strada, Bicycle Thief, Black Orpheus. A spare story grows and builds and pushes itself until it swells to the bursting point and then: suspension. Viewers are forced to meditate on what they have watched, as all of the mini-scenarios that have built it gain their own weight. Marcello (Marcello Fonte) is friends with Simoncino (Edoardo Pesce), a small-time crook; Marcello is a mild-mannered and peaceful but troubled father of a loving daughter, while Simoncino is a human vessel for testosterone, drug-addled…  Read more

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Mansion on the Hill: Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot on The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Jimmie Fails in The Last Black Man in San Francisco (courtesy of A24)

Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot, the creative team behind The Last Black Man in San Francisco, have the kind of backstory that’s the stuff of publicists’ dreams, a compact anecdote that grounds their feature debut. Both are native San Franciscans and met around age 10: Talbot had gotten into a fistfight, and Fails came onto the street just in time to help. The two became lifelong friends, a relationship that mutates into new form in their film. Fails (who cowrote the film’s story with director Talbot; the script’s cowriter is Rob Richert) stars as a version of himself: a lifelong San Franciscan obsessed with his family home, a Victorian mansion said to have been built by his grandfather in the…  Read more

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Crisis of Representation: Why Independent Filmmakers Still Need Agents and Managers

Madeline Brewster in Cam (courtesy of Netflix)

“If you want to work in Hollywood, you must have representation,” says one industry veteran. That’s been a longstanding rule in the entertainment business for the past several decades. Despite the battle between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Hollywood’s big talent agencies over packaging fees, and the thousands of writers who subsequently fired their agents, and even amidst the plethora of new outlets and disruptive distribution technologies, independent filmmakers are still largely subject to the traditional forms of gatekeeping. (And directors haven’t had to fire their agents—at least, not yet.) So, that leaves emerging filmmakers still dependent on managers and talent agents to bolster their careers—in most cases, in that order. Yet, for many early and even mid-career…  Read more

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“Now is an Interesting Moment, When the Cruelties and Inequality are More Exposed than Ever”: Petra Costa on her Netflix-Premiering Doc on Brazilian Politics, The Edge of Democracy

The Edge of Democracy

Politics is confusing at the best of times. But in the age of Brexit, Trump and now Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, it’s impossible to keep track of the fake news, alternative facts and the good old-fashioned lies, damned lies and statistics. Since January 1st of 2019, President Bolsonaro has been ruling the roost in Brazil, following hot on the heels of a president who was almost impeached (Michel Temer), one who was impeached (Dilma Roussef) and one who now keeps a prison bed warm (Lula). The political shenanigans came so thick and fast from the biggest nation in South America that it was hard to keep track of what was going on, even for Brazilians. That confusion is somewhat alleviated…  Read more

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Davey Foundation Offers Grants for Short Films; Deadline July 5

Long Time Listener, Long Time Caller

This year’s edition of the Davey Foundation Short Film Grants—which annually bestow grant packages to shorts filmmakers—comes with a first. Founded in 2013, in past years only short films made by those 35 and under were eligible for submission. That age cap’s been removed for this year’s edition. Judged only on a script basis, four grants will be awarded: two national grant winners receive $5,000 in cash, the third $2500 cash plus use of a film gear package. Additionally, a grant for Utah-based filmmakers will be awarded for $2500 and use of a film gear package. Past grantees include Laura Moss (Fry Day), Lauren Wolkstein (Beemus) and Nora Kirkpatrick (Long Time Listener, First Time Caller). For more information, click here.

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Watch: Guts, Noah Hutton and Taylor Hess’s Short Doc on the Feminist, Anti-Colonial Environmental Lab, CLEAR

Guts (Photo: ©David Howells 2016 www.davehowellsphoto.com)

“Reproducing the status quo is deeply political because the status quo is crappy,” says the Newfoundland-based Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research’s Max Liboiron in Taylor Hess and Noah Hutton’s sharp and inspiring short doc, Guts, currently streaming at The Atlantic (and embedded above). At CLEAR, Liboiron’s work is both deeply political as well as practical. Her environmental science examining the effect of plastic pollutants on animal and human environments and food chains poses a more-than-rhetorical challenge to mainstream ideas around recycling and environmental cleanup. From The Atlantic: In the documentary, she asks a group of well-intentioned recyclers to look closely at their individual consumer behaviors. The data on waste management, she says, suggest that recycling doesn’t do much to…  Read more

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Day For Night on The Dead Don’t Die: Director Of Photography Frederick Elmes Shoots Jarmusch’s Zombies

Fred Elmes

Fred Elmes invited me to a DI Theater at Harbor Picture Company, a post-house bustling around the corner from Film Forum, to talk about his work on Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die. There was just an hour left of the allotted time to finish the HDR version of the film when I arrived at the DI suite, but Fred retained his cool as he lulled us to the finish line. In my time there, he liked to vignette the edges more or less, and bring faces up or down a level or two. Usually down.  Our meeting there was perhaps due, in large part, to our mutual friend Abby Levine, a pioneer of digital imaging and Fred’s DIT on…  Read more

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I Will Always Love You: Amy Dotson’s BAMcinemafest Speech

Amy Dotson

Amy Dotson, who recently departed her position as Deputy Director and Head of Programming at IFP, Filmmaker‘s publisher, is headed this fall to Portland, where she will step into the role of Director of the Northwest Film Center and Film and New Media Curator at the Portland Art Museum. Today she gave a speech at the day of industry talks at BAMcinemafest and kindly offered the text to Filmmaker to publish below. Lotta change in the air, ya’ll. So much has happened of late. As some of you may know, I’m on the precipice of new adventures. That said, I’m particularly excited to be talking with you today but…. If I’m being honest, it’s taken reading a lot of Dolly…  Read more

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Filmmaking

Image courtesy of Carolyn Funk

The 24 Films (More or Less) Shot on 35mm Released in 2018

For five years, I’ve been rounding up the previous year’s US theatrical releases of films shot, in whole or significant part, on 35mm—yes, this year’s tally is lower than any of my previous totals. The total number is unlikely to soar above 40 anytime in…  Read more

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Apr 24, 2019

Festivals & Events

Parasite

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite Wins Cannes Palme d’Or; Mati Diop’s Atlantics Picks Up Grand Prix

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s dark social satire/thriller Parasite won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. It’s the first time a Korean director has won the award, and jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu said the jury was unanimous. First-time French-Senegalese feature filmmaker…  Read more

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on May 25, 2019

 

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