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Back in the day, one veteran distributor - can't remember which one -- said, "If I cry, I buy." This distributor's comment wasn't just about tears. Substitute "cry" for any other word connoting emotion --laughing, or getting angry, or wanting to run home and hug your family or friends -- and the comment still holds. Often in the edit room, as I've found, young directors shy away from emotion, adopting a too-cool-for-school stance towards decisions that will coax such base responses from their audiences.
Now don't get me wrong, I like an Alexander Kluge double feature as much as the next guy. And if I feel a film hasn't earned my emotions - if I feel the score working overtime to compensate for clichéd storytelling -- I'm the first to call foul. But when I see a film that tries to connect to the heart and succeeds, I'm in awe. Such a film for me opened this week, Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild. If you're interested in independent film, it's simply the film you have to see and have an opinion about right now. It's a wild, joyous ride that sweeps the viewer along on the waves of its inventive filmmaking and fresh characters. And after the fever of that ride subsides, it's a film you can think about, debate, and consider and watch anew. I can't say it any better than Hammer to Nail's Michael Tully, who wrote about the film on our site this week. Here's an excerpt from his piece:
It is the type of film that can, and will, likely be read in countless different ways: liberals will respond to its noble transcendence of racial dynamics; Tea Partiers will praise its rejection of the United States government sticking their greasy hands into our private lives; regular filmgoers will appreciate its narrative swell; and cinephiles will admire its bracingly seamless fusion of the fantastical and magical and mythical with an authentic, homegrown docu-reality. As for independent filmmakers like myself, who know just how hard it is to even conceive of making a motion picture like this, let alone realizing it in such an assured, exhilarating way, to experience it and bask in its bombastic, life-affirming glow is to be filled with a satisfaction and pleasure that knows no earthly bounds. Beasts of the Southern Wild is spirituality on celluloid.
See you next week.
INDUSTRY REGISTRATION OPENS FOR INDEPENDENT FILM WEEK Since 1979, Independent Film Week has been a one-of-a-kind event that has brought the international filmmaking community to New York City to celebrate, advocate, and introduce projects from both established filmmakers and new voices on the independent scene. Independent Film Week is a destination where the community of individuals involved with independent film can annually convene - from the filmmakers selected for their exciting new projects to the individuals from companies, festivals and organizations aimed at helping the work get made and ultimately seen by audiences. Recent industry attendees of IFP's Project Forum met the filmmakers or got their first looks at projects such as Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Queen of Versailles, Pariah, If a Tree Falls, Incendies, Nobody Walks, Una Noche and more. Don't miss out. Industry registration is now open for this year's Independent Film Week. More info here.
Hammer To Nail Review
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Take this Waltz
A Burning Hot Summer
All in the Family: Jonathan Caouette on Walk Away Renee
Industry Registration Opens for Independent Film Week
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD By Michael Tully
I want to make this immediately, abundantly clear. Perhaps more than any other review I've ever written, this one is coming from the pained perspective of a filmmaker who is currently skull-deep in the mud, clawing to get an independent film made on an even somewhat legitimate scale (as in, barely seven figures). So if everything I say from this point forth sounds ridiculously biased and doesn't read like traditional "film criticism," there's a reason for that. This isn't a review. It's a call to arms.
Read more BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Benh Zeitlin's feature debut Beasts of the Southern Wild focuses on a six-year old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) whose fierce optimism is shattered when a violent storm attacks her secluded bayou community. In order to repair the physical and spiritual damage inflicted by the storm, she must face great obstacles including a pack of prehistoric beasts. Described as a live-action Miyazaki film with flourishes of Malick, Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Caméra d'Or at Cannes, putting Zeitlin and his star Wallis firmly on the map. TAKE THIS WALTZ In Sarah Polley 's Take this Waltz, Margot (Michelle Williams) meets the handsome and charming Daniel (Luke Kirby) and finds herself inextricably drawn to him. The only catch is that she's happily married to a cookbook writer named Lou (Seth Rogen). Following up her critically acclaimed debut Away from Her, actress-director Polley takes a different turn with this romantic drama about the complexities of love and sex. A BURNING HOT SUMMER Philippe Garrel's A Burning Hot Summer focuses on a painter named Frederic (Louis Garrel) whose marriage to his actress wife Angele (Monica Bellucci) starts to gradually fall apart. Things only get worse when they join another couple (Jerome Robart and Celine Sallette) for a vacation in Rome. Featuring a score by John Cale and the final performance of the director's late father Maurice Garrel, A Burning Hot Summer promises to be a passionate and emotionally intense erotic drama. This week on the blog, Hope Dickson Leach reports from EIFF 2012, Tom Hall interviews Dan Sallitt, director of The Unspeakable Act (pictured left), and Scott Macaulay interviews Welcome to Pine Hill director Keith Miller and thinks about Aaron Sorkin and the internet girl.
To read more posts from our blog, click here.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: JONATHAN CAOUETTE ON "WALK AWAY RENEE" Howard Feinstein
I've been struggling to find a metaphor for the very special, not to mention most unusual, connection between director Jonathan Caouette and Renee Leblanc, his mentally ill and frequently institutionalized mother and the subject of his most recent film, Walk Away Renee. The closest I could come is really a parallel, and it lies within Caouette's body of work. In his 2010 surreal short All Flowers in Time, a beautiful young woman, played by Chloe Sevigny, has an indefinable relationship with an adolescent boy. In a bizarre world where young people's eyes can turn glowing red, the two seem to be close, in what way we do not know. At certain points, they look at each other with their neon-looking eyes, make faces, and giggle, but, above all, a supernormal affection emanates from this experimental narrative. Read more
Tallgrass Film Festival
Regular Deadline: June 29
Late Deadline: July 13
WAB Deadline: July 20
Festival Dates: October 18 - 21
Philadelphia Film Festival
Regular Deadline: June 29
Late Deadline: July 20
WAB Deadline: July 27
Festival Dates: October 18 - 28
International Black Film Festival of Nashville
Late Deadline: June 29
WAB Deadline: July 13
Festival Dates: October 03 - October 07