February 2013 - Posts

Being Zoe Barnes: Reconsidering the Most Difficult Character in 'House of Cards'

The characters in Netflix's original series "House of Cards" are fascinatingly manipulative, calculating, ferociously ambitious or destructively idealistic. What they're not is easily likable, especially in the case of Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), the cub reporter who hitches her star to Representative Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in a relationship that's mostly mutually beneficial and sometimes sexual. It's very easy to dismiss Zoe. The show doesn't really give her the same kind of personal hook the other characters get, the soft spot. Underwood is the chilliest power-at-all-costs pragmatist of them all, but his asides to the camera invite us into what's on his mind and make us co-conspirators. Robin Wright's Claire may be Underwood's D.C. Lady Macbeth, but she also has very human yearnings for the more traditional life and love she could have had. Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) is a mess, but he cares deeply and genuinely about his constituency and is haunted by the idea of...
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Telluride Film Festivals 40th Anniversary Edition Gets A Few Changes

Telluride Film Festival will celebrate it's 40th anniversary this year and to commemorate this special occasion the festival will be extended to be a five day event rather than the usual four-day event. An additional day means more room for special programming honoring their history, including some reunions.  This years festival is scheduled to run from August 29th to September 2nd and is presented by the National Film Preserve. The festival will also debut a brand new venue this year, The Werner Herzog Theatre.  It is set to be their most 'technologically advanced theatre accommodating 650 pass holders.' While a larger venue and additional day could mean a larger pass holder base, they've decided to not expand in efforts to maintain their intimate experience. "The 40th celebration is our chance to thank and honor the founders, filmmakers and audience who have helped us create such a beloved cultural institution," said Telluride Film Festival Executive Director Julie...
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Sundance Winner 'This is Martin Bonner' Acquired by Monterey Media

Writer/director Chad Hartigan's second feature (after 2008's "Luke and Brie are on a First Date") "This is Martin Bonner" received plenty of attention at Sundance this year, where it won the Audience Award for Best of NEXT. Starring Paul Eenhoom and Richmond Arquette (whose performances were praised), the film follows the titular character (Eenhoom), a 50-something man who moves to Reno and takes a job helping transition newly released prisoners back into the real world. Arquette plays one such prisoner, who soon forms a tight bond with Bonner.  READ MORE: 'This is Martin Bonner' Director Chad Hartigan, Winner of Best of NEXT Monterey Media, who of late have handled such notable films as Guy Maddin's "Keyhole" and Monte Hellman's "Road to Nowhere," just announced that it's acquired the film, with plans for a late summer theatrical distribution before an awards-season push attempt in the fall. 
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'How to Survive a Plague' Being Developed as a Scripted ABC Miniseries

David France's "How to Survive a Plague" may not have won an Oscar on Sunday, but it is becoming the basis for a potential scripted miniseries. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news today that ABC Studios bought the rights to France's documentary, which looks at the early years of the AIDS epidemic and how the advocacy groups ACT UP and TAG worked to lower the cost of H.I.V. treatment drug AZT, push new treatments through the approval process and bring attention to the devastation the disease was causing to the gay community. ABC's looking at developing a scripted miniseries adapted from "How to Survive a Plague," which would be the first in years for the network that ran the seminal "Roots" in 1977. It would build on the stories told in the doc. "We know we’d like it to be an extended story that’s not just about AIDS and what AIDS wrought but about this tremendous civil rights movement that grew from the ashes of AIDS and the dawn of the ***, gay, bisexual and transgender...
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Marshall Curry Produced The National Tour Doc 'Mistaken For Strangers' to Open Tribeca Film Festival

The 12th Annual Tribeca Film Festival will be kicking off in a bit of a different fashion than usual when it begins on April 17th, as the just-announced opening film on the 2013 slate is Tom Berninger's (not Berenger) documentary on his brother Matt's band The National, "Mistaken for Strangers". The screening, which will be followed by an exclusive musical performance by the band, is certainly a departure from previous years' high profile studio films such as last year's opener Nicholas Stoller's wedding comedy "The Five Year Engagement." The film, which takes its name from a song on the 2007 album "Boxer," chronicles the band on tour and "is a hilarious and touching look at two very different brothers, and an entertaining story of artistic aspiration." The film was executive produced by Oscar nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry ("If A Tree Falls"), who notably uses the bands' music in his films. (That's the band's frontman and his brother above, with Tom on the right looking very...
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HBO Announces Air Date for Louis C.K.'s Latest Stand-Up Special

Louis C.K. is taking a year-long hiatus from "Louie," the FX series he writes, directs, produces and stars in. With the show not set to return until 2014, fans of the comedian (and who isn't?) are going to have to get their fix where they can, whether that be C.K.'s recent appearance on Showtime's interview series "Inside Comedy" or his latest stand-up special. HBO's just announced the date for the latter -- "Louis C.K.: Oh My God," C.K.'s fifth special, will air on Saturday, April 13th. The hourlong show was taped at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix in front of a live audiences, and features new material from the prolific comedian, who discusses the food chain, animals, divorce, strange anecdotes, broken morality, murder and mortality. This is the second hourlong special from C.K. to land on HBO -- the premium network also aired 2007's "Louis C.K.: Shameless," and of course was home to the comedian's 2006 sitcom "Lucky Louie." C.K. attracted attention in 2011 for producing his...
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For Your Consideration: Yep, It's The 2014 Oscar Predictions

With the Oscars now just a memory, the time has come for the final edition of this column (for this season). From the Toronto International Film Festival's unofficial awards season kickoff in September to last weekend's generally underwhelming ceremony, it's been six long months of speculation and anticipation and I'm ready to move on (as I'm sure many of you are as well). There is one final column before letting awards talk rest in peace until September. It's been an annual tradition at Indiewire (and elsewhere) to take an ignorant stab at the following year well before there's any substantial evidence in its regard (Sundance aside, that is -- where this year it seems "Before Midnight" and to a lesser degree "Fruitvale" are the safest bets for Oscar). Surprisingly, it's not always a total crapshoot. Last year, I did manage to properly predict 5 of the 9 best picture nominations (7 if you count the alternates), and managed to get nine of the 20 acting...
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Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #11: Penny Lane Takes a Personal Look at Nixon and His Conspirators in 'Our Nixon'

The historical documentary "Our Nixon" is Penny Lane's debut feature film. Having made short films for a long time using appropriated materials, she forays into new territory with the help of her co-producer Brian L. Frye. Penny credits him for developing the original concept. With some convincing, they were able to bring it to fruition. What it's about: "'Our Nixon' is a found footage doc featuring Super 8 home movies filmed by *** Nixonʼs closest aides – and fellow Watergate conspirators." What makes the film different: "Everything in the film is archival – in other words, we didn’t shoot anything or add voice-overs or record any of the interviews. We relied entirely on the historical record to tell this story." On films that inspired her: "For All Mankind", "Senna", "The Black Power Mixtape", "Point of Order" and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu." What she hopes audiences will take away: "I hope that regardless of where you stand on Richard Nixon...
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Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #10: John Sayles Tells an Untold Story in 'Go for Sisters'

Oscar-nominee John Sayles ("Amigo"), the filmmaker behind "Go for Sisters," also sidelines as a novelist, screenwriter and occasional actor.  He describes his latest drama "Go for Sisters" as a story people haven’t seen before and full of terrific performances.  What it's about: Two women who were so tight growing up they could ‘go for sisters’ are reunited after 20 years when one is assigned as parole officer for the other. What he hopes audiences will take away: "I always want the audience to think both about the characters they’ve met in the movie and about how the story relates to their own lives." On his inspiration: "I was thinking of some of Fred Wiseman’s early films when I started writing this." On the challenges while creating the film: "As usual, money and time. We had 19 days to shoot over 70 locations in two countries." Upcoming projects: "I have several screenplays written that I’ve been trying to raise money for–- one about...
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Filmmakers You Should Know: Dan Sallitt, America's Indie Answer to Eric Rohmer

While widely acclaimed filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino routinely smuggle European influences into their work, the under-seen director Dan Sallitt does it in subtler fashion. A New York-based critic who has made four impressive features in a span of 26 years, Sallitt's subdued approach to compelling drama in contained scenarios reflects a cinephile's eye. Rather than paying outright homage, Sallitt channels some of his favorite directors into the texture of his narratives. The most obvious precedent for Sallitt's filmmaking is French New Wave figure Eric Rohmer, to whom he dedicates his latest and best movie, "The Unspeakable Act," opening at New York's Anthology Film Archives this week ahead of a DVD/VOD release through Cinema Guild this summer. Along with the theatrical premiere of "The Unspeakable Act," Anthology is also featuring a retrospective of Sallitt's earlier movies, providing an ideal opportunity to put this distinctive cinematic voice in the...
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Futures: Andrew Zuchero Explodes Heads, Old School Style, in His Short Sensation 'The Apocalypse'

Why He's On Our Radar: Few shorts at Sundance shocked and elicited as many laughs as Andrew Zuchero's end of days splatterfest "The Apocalypse." The short (which you can view below) premiered in Park City as part of the Sundance Digital Screening Room and was featured on their YouTube channel, where it has over 650,000 views and rising. Zuchero will next be taking it to SXSW, where it's sure to go over extremely well in the rowdy Midnighters section. More About Him: Zuchero, a New York University grad, has been with Greencard Pictures, the commercial and film production responsible for making "The Apocalypse" a reality, since 2006. Since joining the company, he's done promos for the likes of Bud, Sony and Intel (all of which you can view here). What's Next: "Well right now I’m just working with some of the producers," Zuchero told Indiewire, from the vast Greencard Pictures office space in lower Manhattan. "Alicia Van Coover, who produced this, and we are just spit balling as many...
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Toward Transparent Festival Economics: $500 Screening Fees or $50,000 in Financing?

A couple of weeks ago, Sean Farnel caused a bit of a flutter with his Indiewire article “Fair Trade for Filmmakers: Is It Time For Festivals To Share Their Revenue?." This week, "Searching for Sugar Man" took home the Oscar for Best Documentary. Where’s the connection? You have to go back a few years - to a time when "Searching for Sugar Man" was being pitched at film festivals around the world, including raising some of its money at Sheffield Doc/Fest in the MeetMarket. Director Malik Bendjelloul told film blog Moviescope, “The project was pitched in a few pitching forums in 2008, including Sheffield Doc/Fest’s MeetMarket which is where it got off the ground. As a first-time director, it’s pretty hard to get attention for your project. You can send DVDs and emails to potential funders and investors, but it’s important to meet with people. Pitch forums such as MeetMarket are a great way for independent filmmakers to create awareness about their project and to...
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Trailer of the Week: Francois Ozon Studies Middle Class Obsession in Creepy New Trailer for 'In the House'

Before We Saw the Trailer, We Thought: Best known for 2003's psycho-sexual thriller "Swimming Pool," Francois Ozon is known for churning out films at a Woody Allen workhorse pace, having released a film essentially every year since the late '90s. This makes the two year gap following his last film, the light and funny Catherine Deneuve-starring "Potiche", seem like a significant passage of time. "In the House" made a mark on the festival circuit last year, playing at Toronto and taking the top prize at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. While flying under the radar in the U.S. with a limited release from distributor Cohen Media Group, the acclaim and warm reception the film has picked up so far is still enough to grab attention. And Now? Less overtly sexually charged than "Swimming Pool," but still containing an undercurrent of seductive danger, you could make the case that "In the House" seems to have the potential to be one of Ozon's most notable films in the last super...
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Watch: Ricky Gervais Will Return as David Brent in 'The Office Revisited'

"What's happened in the last 10 years? What hasn't happened in the last 10 years of my life?" Ricky Gervais will be back in the role that made him famous, that of unctuous "The Office" manager David Brent, for a short video special entitled "The Office Revisited," set to air on Friday, March 15th in the U.K. on BBC One and to go live on Gervais' YouTube channel at the same time. Gervais is getting back in character as part of the annual Comic Relief fundraiser -- he'll offer a glimpse of what Brent's up to a decade after "The Office." The U.S. incarnation of "The Office" is currently in its final season, with the finale slated for May 16. Meanwhile, Gervais' new series "Derek" is currently airing in the U.K. on Channel 4, and will premiere in the U.S. on Netflix. A teaser for "The Office Revisited" is below -- the full trailer, with footage of Gervais as Brent, isn't embeddable but can be found here.
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Meet the 2013 SXSW Filmmakers #9: 'Getting Back to Abnormal,' the First Post-Katrina Doc

"Getting Back to Abnormal," collaboratively directed by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian, and Paul Stekler, follows the story of Stacy Head, a polarizing white woman who gets elected to the New Orleans city coucil after Katrina. The documentary offers an amusing perspective on race in America and the political dysfunction of New Orleans. What it's about: It's election time in New Orleans, and nothing is what it seems when a polarizing white politician becomes a racial lightning rod. What else do you want audiences to know about your film? New Orleans is a place that's always messing with your head, in both good and bad ways. Add in the volatile topic of race and you've got a movie that continually plays with your expectations. As filmmakers we've always avoided preaching to the choir, and prefer to let the audience draw its own conclusions about the people in our movies. "Getting Back to Abnormal" is about a New Orleans election, which means that everyone...
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