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2018’s Ten Best Films Directed by Women

Helena Howard in Madeline's Madeline, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

The films on this list represent only a small fraction of films from 2018 directed by female identifying filmmakers ranging greatly in production from impressive big budgeted masterpieces, to smaller, spirited low-to-no budget indies. One thing that emerged more than in recent years was that many films on this list implicate the audience in their inquiries and creativity; they reach into the senses to make sense of our unmoored present to provide meaningful connection. These directors remind how human the medium of film is and how our choices as an audience make us just as responsible as the filmmakers, artists, and leaders we entrust. 10. Rafiki (dir. Wanuri Kahiu) The controversy surrounding this film has distracted much from the film…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 38: The Party’s Just Beginning‘s Director and Star Karen Gillan

Starting with her big break on Dr. Who, and continuing with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers series, Karen Gillan has grown accustomed to fervent fandom surrounding her acting work. With The Party’s Just Beginning, (which she wrote, directed, and stars in) she stepped away from that hubbub to make a small, dark, intricately structured film in her hometown in Scotland. The movie folds out from her character through hallucinations, flashbacks and alcoholic hazes to tell the tale of her grief over her best friend’s suicide. I ask her what it was like directing a feature for the first time while taking on such an emotionally fraught role. And she tells the story of a revelation she had about…  Read more

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Sundance Hits and Misses: How MoviePass, Politics and Streaming Boosted the Indie Theatrical Box Office of 2018

Milly Shapiro, Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff in Hereditary (Photo by James Minchin, courtesy of A24)

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. After theatrical box office numbers for indies looked hopeless last year, 2018 proved all the doomsayers wrong. That’s thanks to such non-Hollywood hits as Hereditary, a Sundance Midnight entry partially financed and released by A24, which grossed more than $44 million in the United States and $35 million internationally. And it’s thanks to Searching, a Screen Gems acquisition out of the NEXT section, which grossed $26 million domestically and another $42 million abroad. Even Sundance’s 16-film Dramatic Competition — which offers a decent test sample of the overall truly indie marketplace — saw stellar results. If 2017’s Sundance competition produced just two modest hits (The Hero, Ingrid Goes West), 2018’s collection produced several…  Read more

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Three Faces of Evil: Top Scary Political Docs of 2018

Putin's Witnesses

If there was one theme that dominated the landscape on the doc fest circuit this year it was politics — and not just that of the Trump administration or the Kremlin (though those subjects were well represented). Filmmakers around the globe seemed to be in obsessive pursuit, trying to find some rational explanations for the irrational hell that’s been going on. Which means that as bad as the decline of western civilization might seem in our current time, there is one upside — it makes for some stunning cinematic art. So with that in mind I’d like to give a shout to a trio of must-see character studies, portraits of men in power that both chilled me to the bone…  Read more

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Getting the Job, Learning from The Master and Goodfellas, and Shooting with Cleaner Glass: Cinematographer Sean Porter Talks Green Book

Sean Porter on the set of Green Book

Viggo Mortensen always seemed like the kind of actor who would insist on eating a dozen hot dogs in a scene if his character did the same. Green Book cinematographer Sean Porter confirmed those suspicions. “We shot a hot dog eating contest and Viggo was cramming them in at full speed every take,” laughs Porter. Green Book provided Mortensen (and his digestive system) with ample opportunities to display that kind of commitment to authenticity. In the based-in-fact story, Mortensen plays Tony Vallelonga, a Bronx bouncer with a penchant for gluttony who accepts a job driving a refined piano virtuoso (played by Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour through the Deep South in 1962. Porter, whose credits include Green Room, 20th…  Read more

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How Can the Camera Show Love? Cinematographer James Laxton on Shooting If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

Cinematographer James Laxton’s latest project, If Beale Street Could Talk, marks a further step in his collaboration with director Barry Jenkins. Based on the novel by James Baldwin, it follows a troubled romance between Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) in the New York City of the early 1970s. If Beale Street Could Talk screened at the closing night celebration at the recent Camerimage Festival, where Laxton had a packed schedule. He participated in a two-part panel,”The Language of Cinema Is Image,” conducted a four-hour Arri Master Class on large-format digital capture, presented a Creative Light Experts roundtable, and took part in the Polish Films Competition jury. He spoke with Filmmaker at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Filmmaker:…  Read more

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“What Moonlight Gave Us Was the Confidence to Execute Our Ideas Without Fear”: Writer/Director Barry Jenkins on If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk (Photo: Annapurna Pictures)

Writer-director Barry Jenkins solidifies his position as one of the current cinema’s most empathetic and visually (and aurally) expressive filmmakers with his third feature, If Beale Street Could Talk. Adapted from a 1974 novel by James Baldwin, the film tells the story of Tish and Fonny, a young couple whose dreams are cut short by Fonny’s wrongful imprisonment; moving back and forth between the early days of their love story and the brutal reality of their present, Jenkins crafts a masterpiece that is simultaneously achingly, hopefully romantic and unblinking in its portrait of social injustice. While Moonlight drew upon cinematic influences like Claire Denis and Wong Kar-Wai, If Beale Street Could Talk references the New York street photography of Gordon…  Read more

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Filmmaking

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K: Is it Worth It?

A $1300 4K RAW camera that comes with DaVinci Resolve and produces stunning, detailed images as those featured in the above camera test seems like a no-brainer. But as Blackmagic begins shipping their latest Pocket Cinema Camera, reports are rolling in of faulty battery life and…  Read more

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Dec 13, 2018

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