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What did I like? I loved Adam Leon's Grand Jury Prize-winning Gimme the Loot, an infectiously charming NYC indie with an old-school, early '90s vibe. It'll be at New Directors/New Films in March, and you can read Byron Camacho's interview with Leon here. And I also loved Sean Baker's Starlet, which boasted two astonishing debuts. Dree Hemingway stars as a sweet porn actress who unexpectedly befriends a bitter 85-year-old woman played by first-timer Besedka Johnson. With doc moments recalling Larry Sultan's old photos of porn sets, the film is a light-on-its-feet and un-sensationalized look at private lives in the San Fernando Valley.
The festival's two big debuts both delivered. Drew Goddard's eschatological mix of meta-horror and stoner comedy, Cabin in the Woods, is all that it's cracked up to be. If you can possibly avoid watching or reading anything about it - and that includes both its trailer and anything I may up writing on the site - I recommend you do so. And, finally, Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls is thrillingly original and shockingly hilarious. I expected it to be good, but not this good. You can read Dan Schoenbrun's interview with Dunham about the series here.
In terms of panels, Nick Denton's talk on "The Tragedy of Comments" gave me some ideas for Filmmaker's web redesign and how we can get you, the readers more involved. There was a good transmedia panel that funnily segued from Lance Weiler talking about the Robot Heart Stories project he's doing with West Coast elementary schoolers to Jon Chu talking about the transmedia elements of his Justin Bieber pic, Never Say Never. There was a panel on producing and financing indies that I summarized here and another on shooting lower-budget movies creatively and well..
Finally, it was fun to hear author and inventor Ray Kurzweil's talk, "Expanding Our Intelligence without Limit." While not dismissing the challenges posed by the environment, disease and bio-warfare, Kurzweil's faith in what he called the law of accelerating returns means that, as he concluded, "If you can hang in there, you will be able to experience the remarkable century ahead."
See you next week.
IFP'S SCRIPT TO SCREEN CONFERENCE THIS SATURDAY IFP's Script to Screen Conference will be held this Saturday March 17 at 92Y Tribeca in NYC. Anchored by a conversation with Oscar-nominated director Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Capote) led by EW's film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum; Script to Screen will feature a live pitch contest; writing games and conversations with innovators in screenwriting, TV, and new media; and a networking lunch offering the chance to connect with representatives from organizations such as Writers Guild of America East, Tribeca Film Institute, Cinereach, and the New York Television Festival. The day-long event will explore new opportunities available to indie filmmakers and content creators and is the place to explore the art, craft, and business of screenwriting and creating the next generation of independent film and media. Also featured will be a Writer's Conversation with Ry Russo-Young (Nobody Walks), Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Liza Johnson (Return), and Madeleine Olnek (Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same). Other guests include Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death); Ethan T. Berlin and Eric Bryant ("Bunk"); Dia Sokol Savage ("16 & Pregnant"); and Collegehumor.com's David Young. Script to Screen is presented in partnership with the Writers Guild of America East, New York Television Festival, and BookExpo America. For additional information and to purchase tickets, click here.
Hammer to Nail Review
Jeff Who Lives at Home
A Conversation with the Dardenne Brothers
IFP'S Script to Screen Conference This Saturday
THE KID WITH A BIKE By Michael Nordine
The Kid with a Bike is propelled by eruptive moments nestled between long stretches of calm. That it is seen through the eyes of a child too young and confused to understand as much about himself as the viewer does would appear to make the eponymous bicycle rider's case an ironic one, but it mostly just makes it sad. Every time Cyril pushes his newly adoptive mother away or pines after his absent father, we see his heart slowly breaking and his view of the world further dimming. This is an ordinary boy whose inability (or outright refusal) to believe that his dad is never coming back for him makes him something of a problem child: running away from school, rarely doing what he's told, expressing himself through violence. "I want my dad," he says at one particularly vulnerable moment; it's the kind of naked, genuine truth the Dardenne Brothers often espouse plain as day. They understand, here and elsewhere, that simplicity is as effective a means of conveying profundity as any other.read more JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME Riffing on the kind of chance encounters that might have inspired the Surrealists decades ago, or, perhaps, a Sophie Calle art piece, Mark and Jay Duplass's Jeff Who Lives at Home continues the mumblecore duo's movement towards mainstream comedy. There are a lot of foot chases, hiding between dumpsters and earnest moments of self-discovery in this tale of two brothers spying on one's adulterous wife. Serendipity and one whopper of a set piece also make an appearance. Jason Segel is quite good in the film, and he stars alongside Ed Helms, Judy Greer and Susan Sarandon. NATURAL SELECTION Robbie Pickering's feature debut Natural Selection tells the story of Linda (Rachael Harris), a hermetic, sexually starved and deeply religious Texan housewife whose life takes an unexpected turn when she learns that her dying husband, Abe (John Diehl), has a 23-year old son whom he never met. At Abe's request, Linda journeys to find his son to bring him back only to strike an unlikely bond with him. The film was a surprise success at last year's SXSW, sweeping all the major awards and garnering a great review from Roger Ebert. Indeed, Pickering has made a strong film that that mixes original character work with an unexpectedly playful tone. Recommended. DETACHMENT In Tony Kaye's (American History X) eagerly awaited Detachment, Henry (Adrien Brody), an introverted substitute teacher roams from school to school and refuses to make any emotional attachments with students and faculty alike. His world turns upside down after he starts a new job and encounters three kindred spirits that make him re-consider his belief in how alone he really is in the world. The film features a stellar ensemble cast including James Caan, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner, Marcia Gay Harden, William Peterson and Tim Blake Nelson among others. This week on the blog, Dan Schoenbrun interviews Girls creator Lena Dunham (pictured left), Byron Camacho interviews In Our Nature director Brian Savelson, and Randy Astle discusses documentary short Kony 2012.
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A CONVERSATION WITH THE DARDENNE BROTHERS By Ariston Anderson
The Kid with a Bike, the latest from the Belgian Dardenne Brothers, is coming to theaters March 16, courtesy of Sundance Selects. The touching story already picked up the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year in addition to being nominated for a Golden Globe and Spirit Award. After his heartbreadking role in the Dardennes' The Child, actor Jeremie Renier reprises his role as a deadbeat dad, Guy, who abandons his twelve-year-old son, Cyril, to be looked after by the local hairdresser, Samantha. She struggles to fill in the missing holes Cyril's absent parents left behind while trying to keep him away from negative influences on the street. read more
Indianapolis International Film Festival
Late Deadline: March 15
WAB Deadline: March 31
Festival Dates: July 19 - 29
Santa Monica International Film Festival
Final Deadline: March 15
WAB Deadline: June 15
Festival Dates: November 2 - 4
Melbourne International Film Festival
Late Deadline: March 22
Festival Dates: August 2 - 19