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“Even Before It’s a Vision, It’s a Need”: Director Jeremiah Zagar Talks the Creative Process and his New We the Animals

We the Animals

“I will do everything you do.” Filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar (In a Dream) dubs that his motto, his ethos, while on set. And when you watch his simultaneously epic and beautifully specific film We the Animals, it will come as no surprise that Zagar created for his collaborators such a collaborative, safe space for taking risks. Premiering at Sundance Film Festival this year where it won the NEXT Innovator award, it’s the first narrative feature for Zagar. His documentarian’s eye combined with his ability to draw vulnerable and vibrant performances from his cast creates sparkling portrait of three young boys discovering themselves against the backdrop of a volatile home life in upstate New York. “I really thought of it as a…  Read more

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“It Certainly Doesn’t Hurt to Make Films For This Little Money”: Ricky D’Ambrose on Notes on an Appearance

Bingham Bryant in Notes on an Appearance

Writing about Ricky D’Ambrose for last year’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film, Vadim Rizov described the script of his debut feature, Notes on an Appearance, then in postproduction, as “giv[ing] a sense of a disciplined, honed gaze refined over years of self-tutoring.”  That autodidact’s precision manifests, in shorts like Six Cents in the Pocket (2015) and Spiral Jetty (2015), in straight-on close-ups of people against blank white walls or monochromatic wallpaper, or of pictures and texts and cups of coffee on tables as the sun streams through the window, and an almost monastic sound mix of epistolary voiceover and the distant hum of the city. It also aligns, in Notes on an Appearance, with the guarded deliberateness of David…  Read more

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“I Had a Moral Crisis”: Bing Liu on Minding the Gap, Personal Doc Voiceovers and Cycles of Abuse

Minding the Gap

Bing Liu’s first feature documentary, Minding the Gap, draws upon a deep trove of skater tapes he’d kept since his teen years. The film tracks three male skaters growing up (or failing to) in economically dispossessed Rockford, IL. Two are the director’s old friends: in between countless beers, Zack is introduced as he prepares to have a child he clearly isn’t ready for with his girlfriend Nina. Keire doesn’t have any attachments beyond family, but finding his first job is a struggle; the ultimate goal is to get out. The third character is the filmmaker himself. What all three subjects have in common is being raised in abusive households, a shared trauma that becomes clear early on. (In an interview, Keire refers…  Read more

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Alice T., Too Late to Die Young and Four More From Locarno 2018

Too Late to Die Young

There was a bittersweet, valedictory quality to the 71st edition of the Locarno Film Festival. Over the past decade or so, Locarno has carved out a place for itself as a space for arthouse true believers, handing out top prizes to the likes of Lav Diaz and Wang Bing and seeing premieres of key films by Pedro Costa and Chantal Akerman, in the process becoming a byword for a certain kind of distinctly 21st-century, boundary blurring art cinema—to tweak the title of one of the festival’s main programs, filmmaking “of the present.” Recently, in both a validation of everything the festival has become and, potentially, a fundamental challenge to its identity, Locarno’s artistic director Carlo Chatrian was tapped to fill…  Read more

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Back to One Podcast: John Gallagher, Jr. on the Importance of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Sorkin, and the Success of Simply Surviving a Role

His performances in Spring Awakening and American Idiot are probably what John Gallagher Jr. is most known for at the moment (he won a Tony for the former), and are often what get him labeled a “musical theater guy,” but they were the only musicals he’s done in his 20-year career. I ask him about two recent play productions (Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Jerusalem) that I suspect were very formative for him, and his latest screen role in the important and moving indie The Miseducation of Cameron Post. And, of course, I couldn’t let him go without talking about Sorkin. Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. And…  Read more

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Breaking Character: Josephine Decker Talks to Mike Mills about Madeline’s Madeline

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

Madeline (Helena Howard) has a hospital bracelet on her wrist and a rehearsal to go to. One of the questions fueling Madeline’s Madeline, Josephine Decker’s third feature as a solo director, is how two of the biggest elements of Madeline’s life — some unspecified form of mental instability and her promise as a young actress — interact, or if they even can safely. Howard’s breakout performance as the troubled thespian is part of an unusual triangle. At one point is her mother Regina (the writer, actress and performance artist Miranda July), whose protective custody of her unstable daughter is unreadable: justifiable concern or constrictive and manipulative? At the other is Evangeline (Molly Parker), theater director of a small troupe building a…  Read more

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  • RT @FilmLinc: "An anti-mystery in the tradition of L’Avventura assembled with the cool reserve of Robert Bresson." — @villagevoice Q&A wit…
  • RT @jersimarmblatt: Big deep RIP to the great Rob Todd. The only details we really need to know is that a sensuous, lyrical filmmaker and t…
  • RT @ScreenandShout: If I were in L.A. I would get in a car and go to the screenings where Jeremiah Zagar and his beautiful WE THE ANIMALS w…
  • RT @mattzollerseitz: I tend to have a baseline respect for artists who intentionally build a little mystery into their work and refuse to r…
  • “Even before it’s a vision, it’s a need” — Jeremiah Zagar goes deep into his creative process and @TheAnimalsFilm w… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
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