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Since the late 1990s, Gas Food Lodging filmmaker Allison Anders frequently lamented the pitiful media attention around women directors. “There are no girl-wonders, especially in this business,” she told BOMB Magazine in 1994. “But men all think they’re the next boy-wonder.” In the wake of bombshell reports on gender pay inequity and the #TimesUp movement, the media and entertainment industries are now certainly well aware of the “boy wonder syndrome,” as it’s been called. But bias is still glaringly with us, sometimes in subtle ways. Not only were no women directors nominated for Oscars this year, as has been widely […]
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As Barry Alexander Brown toiled on the editing of School Daze, he was convinced that, at any moment, he’d be found out. That someone would inform director Spike Lee he was no longer working in the indie trenches of She’s Gotta Have It. That he was now working under the auspices of Columbia Pictures and could no longer simply hire his buddies to cut his movies. Recalls Brown, “I was sure somebody was going to come into the editing room and say, ‘What are you doing here?’” That never happened and, three decades later, Barry Alexander Brown is still cutting movies […]
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I screened the amorphous Madeline’s Madeline twice in preparation for my interview with DP Ashley Connor; on the second go-around, I realized I’d be as nonplussed on a third or forth. I didn’t write any questions because I couldn’t. But perhaps an improvised approach was truer to the spirit of Madeline’s Madeline, which refuses to be pinned down. One of New York’s most prolific working DPs, Connor’s fervent demand for a higher standard of nuance, diversity, and inclusivity in the film industry naturally formed the backbone and throughline of our oscillating conversation which features, amongst other things, Nathaniel Dorsky’s Devotional Cinema, Grand […]
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I first took note of Ariel Kavoussi’s singular comedic talent in Onur Tukel’s Applesauce and then Catfight, where she hilariously played Ann Heche’s assistant and stole every scene she was in. She performed a similar theft this past year on the Netflix series Maniac, opposite Emma Stone. She also writes and directs her own work. Her new short film The Poet and The Professor was called a “truly absurdist, provocative, and contemporary feminist film” by Indiewire. We talk about the origins of her approach to comedy, how she works the audition rooms she suddenly finds herself in, and her relationship […]
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As in Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly (2009), a woman’s disappearance in Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben—this is Farhadi’s first film in Spanish) is the inciting incident. This time it is Irene, the daughter of Laura (Penelope Cruz), swept from her bed on the night of her aunt’s wedding—either by her own anarchic free spirit, or a kidnapper, stranger, or kin. Irene’s absence turns up dormant family secrets and suspicions that, perhaps, they all already knew. Bare and exposed, the festered family wounds must be dealt with until new ones emerge to be cast aside. Everybody Knows is another social realist thriller in […]
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“My life is not what one would term heroic.”  The narrator of Romina Paula’s second novel, August, returns to her home town in Patagonia to memorialize a childhood friend five years after his death. Emilia’s in her early 20s and has been living with her brother in Buenos Aires. She’s still in college; her boyfriend is in a band. Once back home, she reunites with the love of her youth, Julián, who is now a father, married, somewhat happily. Emilia’s a familiar character making familiar first steps into adulthood, but Paula heightens every sensation and plumbs every potential cliché for […]
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On one level, The Plagiarists is a two-part comedy about a ceaselessly fighting couple, the first half of which takes place in winter. Anna (Lucy Kaminsky) is a novelist, at least aspirationally—completion of her first novel is a ways off, so she pays the bills as a copy writer. Tyler (Eamon Monaghan) is a filmmaker, but doesn’t think he can call himself that—he’s written a script, but that’s not the same thing as actually having directed a feature, and meanwhile all he’s doing is, as they say, “creating content.” His latest contract is with Evian, which makes it especially regrettable that, […]
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With the epic nature of the #MeToo movement and the independent film community’s goals to program female voices (at Sundance 41% of features and episodic had a woman director, while 52% of shorts did) one would think there’d be progress within the larger film community. But Caryn Coleman, who runs the Future of Film is Female fund and MoMA screening series reminds us, there’s still a need for activism. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge shows that there hasn’t been any dramatic changes in the representation of women directors. From 2007-2018, just 4% of the directors of the 1,200 top […]
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If I ever need to cry on cue, I can just picture the expression on Josh Hamilton’s face, in Eighth Grade, when Elsie Fisher hugs him. It’s a beautiful, wordless culmination of his incredible performance, which landed him a Spirit Award nomination this year. We discuss that scene, and he shares some of what he’s learned from jumping from the New York stage to the big and small screens and back again over the past 25 years. He talks about the importance of syncing with the director’s vision, being off-book before rehearsals, and why he’s a self described “take whore.” […]
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Gus Van Sant won’t settle and his insatiable itch to reinvent himself hasn’t ebbed. Years working in, out, and around the studio system have offered him ample opportunity to normalize, and, occasionally, he’s adopted the opportunity, if only to do something different (as only different could be his “norm”) once more. Even his deliberate efforts to direct something “standard” tend to tinge off-kilter, with his itch to experiment crackling just under frame. His latest re-invention, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, which has its streaming premiere today on Amazon Prime, wiggles somewhere in between Van Sant’s oeuvre of […]
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