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On our website this week, Zach Wigon’s foray into the “boring movies” debate generated a huge amount of traffic. Wigon namechecks David Foster Wallace in his argument for why long attention span movies are more sustaining than more standard fare. I’m fascinated by this discussion because -- and here I’ll be honest -- while my favorite directors (Tarkovsky, Antonioni) are key figures in the slow-film canon, I fell in love with them in rep arthouses many years ago, before my own neurochemistry was altered by the Pavlovian pulse of the Internet and the easy distractions of Netflix home viewing. I don’t know if I encountered these directors for the first time today whether they’d resonate in the same way. On the other hand, when I interviewed the twentysomething Dimitry Trakovsky about his Tarkovsky documentary, I was surprised to learn that the young filmmaker discovered Tarkovsky’s work entirely via his laptop.
Tarkovsky, in fact, is the key figure in this discussion. His book Sculpting in Time makes a point that it’s not about being slow or fast but about the filmmaker’s capturing of a personal sense of time that is the mark of the true artist. In a world in which the rhythms of time are increasingly controlled by corporations and algorithms that shape our “user experience,” thinking about time as much as story or character seems like a fruitful goal. Wrote Tarkovsky in his book, “I see it as my professional task, then, to create my own, distinctive flow of time, and convey in the shot a sense of its movement -- from lazy and soporific to stormy and swift -- and to one person it will seem one way, to another, another.” (By the way -- Tree of Life fans, go check out Tarkovsky’s The Mirror.)
Back to work on the issue. See you next week.
IFP PROGRAM ALUMS SCREENING AT NYC FESTIVALS June continues to offer a plethora of film festivals worldwide, and NYC is no different with three opening this week alone - BAMcinemaFEST, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, and the Northside Music: Film: Arts: Ideas Festival, all featuring terrific films that are alums of IFP programs. The Third Annual BAMcinemaFEST includes Spotlight on Docs alums Marie Losier’s The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, Marshall Curry & Sam Cullman’s If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Heather Courtney’s Where Soldiers Come From, and Filmmaker Lab alums Eleanor Burke and Ron Eyal’s Stranger Things in its New York premiere. Human Rights Watch (June 16-30) opens with Spotlight on Docs alums Pamela Yates and Paco de Onis’ Granito: How to Nail a Dictator along with – again – the popular If a Tree Falls. At Northside, IFP will be hosting a screening of program alums – Lauren Wolkstein’s IFP fiscally sponsored short Cigarette Candy and John Henry Summerour’s Sahkanaga, an IFP Filmmaker Lab alum, on June 18th, with additional alums - Etienne Sauret’s Dirty Pictures and David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of the American Sleepover – also screening during the festival.
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Hammer To Nail Review
The Art of Getting By
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Fuller: On Great, Boring Movies and Cultural Vegetables
IFP: Program Alums Screening at NYC Festivals
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BUCK By Susanna Locascio
On its simplest level Cindy Meehl’s documentary Buck tells the story of the cowboy Buck Brannaman, a horseman who travels the United States conducting clinics for “horses with people problems.” First-time director Cindy Meehl met Buck at one of his clinics, and wanted to share his wisdom with a wider circle than the ardent fans he’s built among “horse people.” read more THE ART OF GETTING BY This slick and enjoyable debut from writer-director Gavin Wiesen focuses on a high-school romance between lazy outcast George (Freddie Highmore) and popular beauty Sally (Emma Roberts). As George's personal and academic troubles mount, and his family falls apart, Sally finds ways to draw him out of his shell. It’s not faint praise to say that The Art of Getting By (originally titled Homework when it premiered at this year's Sundance) is supremely watchable, a universal love story that draws on a strong supporting cast that includes Blair Underwood, Rita Wilson, and Alicia Silverstone. BUCK A sleeper hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, walking away with the doc Audience Award, first-time filmmaker Cindy Meehl follows Buck Brannaman, a veteran horse-whisperer (he was partly the inspiration for the book The Horse Whisperer, which was later made into a movie by Robert Redford) who travels the country, employing his unique methods of healing and communication to help troubled horses. Set against the backdrop of the American mid-West, Buck is a patient and deeply spiritual exploration into the complexities of human connection. As the film draws on, Brannaman reveals himself to be both a humble teacher and a fascinating subject. Read our interview with Meehl now by subscribing for a digital issue of the magazine. PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES This rare glimpse into the New York Times' frenzied, energized, and eternally rigorous newsroom could not have come at a more polarizing time. Page One: Inside the New York Times finds the writers and editors at the paper coping with the wild west that is Internet journalism. As the debate over the future of print rages, director Andrew Rossi trains his camera on celebrated writers such as Tim Arango, David Carr, and Sarah Ellison. Through these experts, Rossi explores the staggering workload and inherent passion that goes into creating and maintaining the world's most trusted and prominent news source. Rossi and Carr discuss the film and journalism in the age of the Internet in this video piece we did at Sundance. This week on the blog, Lauren Wissot previews Rooftop Films' upcoming summer slate, Scott Macaulay on Michael Medaglia's short Kitty, Kitty, and Lucas McNelly returns with part 3 of "A Year Without Rent" (pictured left).
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FULLER: ON GREAT, BORING MOVIES AND CULTURAL VEGETABLES By Zachary Wigon
Unless you are a very serious basketball player — at minimum serious intramural league level, or one of those Wall Street guys who absolutely must blow off a ton of steam by playing their hearts out on the court or else they’ll absolutely lose their soul — there is a very distinct qualitative difference between what it feels like to play basketball for a while and to run for a while. After you finish playing basketball for a while you feel good, you’ve gotten some good cardio, but that cardio is intermittent, the game being filled with plenty of pauses and plays where you sort of lolled around in the low post, hoping you’d get the ball until you realized that you’re a Jewish 5’10” and you probably won’t be getting the ball in the low post anytime this century. You feel like you’ve exerted yourself, but that’s all. read more JUNE
MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival
Regular Deadline: June 17
Late Deadline: July 15
Festival Dates: September 25 - October 2
Eastern Oregon Film Festival
Early Deadline: June 17
Regular Deadline: August 31
Festival Dates: October 20 - 22
Philadelphia Film & Animation Festival
Late Deadline: June 21
WAB Deadline: July 1
Festival Dates: September 29 - October 2