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“I Was Drawn… to the Pure Mystery of It”: Liz Garbus on Her HBO Doc, Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

In 2011 the small town of Potsdam, NY was rocked by an inexplicable atrocity: 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was discovered murdered in his home. The tragedy in turn launched a manhunt, which led to the ex-boyfriend — or rather, one of the ex-boyfriends — of Garrett’s mother Tandy Cyrus being arrested for the crime. Which only led to more questions as this man, Oral “Nick” Hillary, happened to be the beloved soccer coach at Clarkson University. And also one of the few black men in town. Liz Garbus’s Who Killed Garrett Phillips? painstakingly follows the twists and turns that unfolded over […]

“There’s This Idea that Filmmakers are Social Workers, Which They’re Not!”: Errol Morris on His Portrait of a Holocaust Revisionist, Mr. Death

The following interview of Errol Morris originally appeared in Filmmaker‘s Fall, 1998 issue. In 1988, Fred A. Leuchter, an engineer from Massachusetts who made a living designing more “humane” electric chairs, was hired by Ernst Zundel, the publisher of several pro-Hitler, Holocaust-denying tracts, to conduct a forensic investigation into the use of poison gas in Nazi concentration camps. On his honeymoon, Leuchter travelled to Auschwitz and, with his wife sitting in the car reading Agatha Christie novels, illegally chipped away at the brick, collecting mortar samples which he transported back to the States. Testing these samples for traces of cyanide […]

Cindy Silver: The Dancer, Teacher, Mother, Reluctantly Abides In Cutting My Mother

“I’m not an editor… I’m not a director. I’m also not an actress.” But Cindy Silver is the mother, teacher, and compliant subject of her son, writer and director Nathan Silver (Stinking Heaven, Thirst Street), who asks his mother to act in nearly all of his films. In his new docuseries Cutting My Mother, playing Anthology Film Archives today beside Exit Elena (also featuring Cindy), he asks more of her than he ever has before. He asks her to direct her own film. [Silver’s short, Solo, plays at the Anthology as part of the program.] As a child, Nathan drew […]

“Our Work Was Bound to Cause Discomfort…”: P.A. Carter on his HBO-Premiering Doc Series, Behind Closed Doors

One of the most complicated (and epic, as it feels much larger than the sum of its two parts) documentaries I’ve seen in years, P.A. Carter’s Behind Closed Doors is this summer’s not-to-miss film for true crime devotees. Debuting on HBO July 16th and 17th, Carter’s meticulously-crafted picture begins with the double murder of 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her family’s servant Hemraj Banjade in the Talwars’s upper-middle-class home — a mystery that immediately unleashed a media circus in the staid Indian town of Noida. But it was the whiplash machinations surrounding the subsequent investigations and interrogations, trials and appeals, that […]

Vice Squad: Director Abel Ferrara on Screenwriter Zoë Lund on Bad Lieutenant

Bad Lieutenant was the cover story for the Winter, 1993 edition of Filmmaker — this magazine’s second issue. This feature by Scott Macaulay, with quotes from director Abel Ferrara and screenwriter Zoë Lund, appears online for the first time. ***“No one can kill me. I’m blessed. I’m a fucking Catholic.” — Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant. “The title is so ironic, Bad Lieutenant. Because of course it doesn’t mean he’s bad. You have the semantic irony of the “baaad” lieutenant and the central irony of ‘Is he bad or is he not bad and perhaps one needs to be bad […]

Bloody Thoughts: Abel Ferrara on The Addiction

Appearing online for the first time, here is Scott Macaulay’s report on Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, from our Winter, 1995 edition. It appears here in newly revised form. *** “Addiction will be our question: a certain type of ‘Being-on-drugs’ that has everything to do with the bad conscious of our era.” — Avital Ronell, Crack Wars “Look at this,” Abel Ferrara says, tracing his finger across the video monitor in his Manhattan office/editing room. On the screen: black-and-white images of blood-streaked, bullet-ridden Bosnian casualties. “This is the real thing.” These images, and others of Nazi concentration camp victims from Ferrara’s […]

I’m In You: Director Spike Jonze and Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman Talk Being John Malkovich.

In Spike Jonze’s future, you will be famous for 15 minutes. The catch? You will only be famous as John Malkovich. Confused? Don’t be. Being John Malkovich, Jonze’s devious debut feature, creates from our schizophrenic celebrity culture an original comedy that is as affecting as it is absurd. Scott Macaulay ponders the meaning of it all with Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman in an interview that originally appeared in our Fall, 1999 print edition. There are auspicious debut films, and then there is Being John Malkovitch. Long a subject of film-geek gossip during its production due to its bizarre premise—a […]

“I Make Fiction Films Because I Like Representation”: Director Pedro Almodovar On All About My Mother

From Filmmaker‘s archives, and online for the first time, here is our interview with Pedro Almodovar about All About My Mother as well as many other things, including Tennessee Williams, rejecting primary colors and the difficulties, sometimes, of being “Almodovar.” This piece originally ran in our Fall, 1999 issue. “Mainly women,” says Leo, the desperate, devastated, lovelorn romance writer played by Marisa Paredes in Pedro Almodovar’s eleventh feature film, The Flower of My Secret. “Adventurous, suicidal lunatics.” He might as well be talking about the characters found in Almodovar’s films, for his is a body of work dominated by actresses, […]

“I See the Film as a Fairy Tale, More than Anything Else”: Ari Aster on Trauma and the “Folk Horror” of Midsommar

Watching writer/director Ari Aster’s debut Hereditary, I yearned for the horror to come, as if it’d help wash away the pain of the domestic trauma preceding. Then it came, but it painfully didn’t offer the relief I had been thirsting for. Aster’s horror films, full of pain and confusion, are mined from the director’s own traumas. Making them might be a form of exorcism. He coins his latest film, Midsommar — about a grieving woman who travels to a nine-day long festival in Sweden with her diffident boyfriend and his grad student friends — a breakup movie, and this time, […]

“A Generation of Artists Were Lost”: Roe Bressan and Jenni Olson on the Newly Restored Gay USA

Filmed over one continuous 1977 day at Pride parades across San Francisco, Chicago, New York, San Diego and other metropolises, Arthur Bressan Jr.’s Gay USA is a tapestry of anecdotes, embraces, misconceptions and confused onlookers. It not only captures the optimism and palpable ecstasy of the LGBT attendees of Pride ‘77, but uses the homophobic agenda of Anita Bryant in Dade County, Floridato provide political context as to why these happy men, women and non-binary folks galavanting along Castro Street and Greenwich Village still had very much at stake.  Many of Bressan’s films outlined the political reality of being gay […]

“I Can Afford a Month of Editing Right Now”: Diana Peralta on De Lo Mio

While most independent films are birthed out of personal necessity, a time-crunch, and readily available locations, Diana Peralta’s De Lo Mio may represent a pinnacle of can-do gumption. Shot on location in the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic, Peralta’s debut feature uses her late grandmother’s home as its central location and its truer-than-fiction narrative—following her passing, two sisters return to their grandmother’s cozy property before it gets bulldozed and the land sold. Shot last fall but percolating in the director’s mind for years, De Lo Mio is as much about the sisters in front of the camera (performed by Sasha […]

An On-Set Education: Graham Swon on The World is Full of Secrets

When The World is Full of Secrets showed earlier this year at a festival for debut films in remote Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, its director, Graham Swon (a 25 New Face of Film in 2016), briefly became almost as much of interest to the public audience and critics there as did his hypnotic cinematic spectacular. That I was there as the only international journalist in attendance to witness Swon fielding eager questions from this newfound audience of intrigued Siberian spectators strikes me now as a fluke of wondrous good fortune. The movie’s long, discursive monologues, in which 15- and 16-year-old girls narrate […]

“I Just Saw People Falling Out of the Sky”: Andrew Hevia on Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window

A stranger in a foreign land, with a camera and a penchant for cheap beer: Andrew Hevia’s hyperdigital documentary Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window follows the Miami-bred filmmaker as he visits Hong Kong for the Chinese edition of Art Basel. At first determined to make a traditional documentary accessible for public television audiences, Hevia’s plans are quickly thwarted once he discovers the elusive intricacies of the region. He’s a Cuban-American who can’t understand the language of his new surroundings. Rather than view that as a hindrance, he takes to meeting artists and art collectors, attending art shows, wooing […]

“A Movie Where Nobody Wears Clothes and It’s PG-Rated”: Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli on So Pretty

Before Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli began the bulk of production on her second feature So Pretty, she wrote an essay for this site outlining some of the goals and background behind the production: The film is an adaptation of a 1980s German gay novel [Ronald M. Schernikau’s So Schön] that I am transposing and translating to a cast of feminine people of many genders in 2018, New York City. […] Given the explicit gender-trouble and queer elements of So Pretty, as well as the fact that it takes seriously the novella’s paraphrased subtitle “a utopian film,” my film must create an image […]

“I Don’t Know How to Fake It, To Do Something I Don’t Believe In”: Michael Almereyda on Vampires, Mummies, Writing Hollywood Screenplays and Directing Independent Films

After more than a quarter century of publication, Filmmaker has a huge archive, and most of our print articles have never appeared online. Over the next several months we’ll be correcting that by curating some of our best articles and interviews, particularly from directors who continue to make strong and vital work today. We’ll start with this Winter, 1999 interview of Michael Almereyda by Ray Pride, published on the release of his film Trance, that is also an excellent overview of his early directing career and Hollywood screenwriting work. — Editor Filmmakers working outside the major studios often find themselves […]

“This is the Real Narrative of Our Country”: Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas on Challenging Stereotypes and Shaping Raw Experience in Pahokee

In a formidable field of American documentaries at this year’s Maryland Film Festival, few could match the novelistic detail and warm humanism of Pahokee, the debut feature of husband-and-wife filmmaking team Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas. These qualities, however, don’t immediately announce themselves. As Bresnan and Lucas acquaint us with the titular South Florida town, an isolated low-income community flanked by sugar cane fields whose population tilts more than 50% African-American, there’s a whiff of anthropological dispassion that’s evident in the sharply composed landscape shots and the liberal dispersal of attention around the community. For a while, the film gets […]

A Love Story Underneath an Animal Rescue Story: Director Richard Miron, Editor Jeffrey Star and Producer Holly Meehl on For the Birds

If there’s one thing we can be sure of about Kathy Murphy, the middle-aged woman at the center of the moving debut feature, For the Birds, by director Richard Miron, it’s that she loves animals. Birds in general, ducks and turkeys in particular. Kathy has been “collecting” them for years now on her small makeshift farm in Upstate New York alongside her begrudging husband, Gary. Less an obsession than an inherent need, Kathy values her birds above all else, and as crowding and cleanliness prompt local animal sanctuaries to threaten legal action of behalf of the wellbeing of Kathy’s feathered […]

“I Still Have the Illusion of Community”: Director Dominga Sotomayor on Her Second Feature, Too Late to Die Young, and the New Santiago Coworking Space CCC

The possibility and impossibility of community lies at the heart of Chilean Dominga Sotomayor’s second feature film, Too Late To Die Young, which follows a group of young people living in a community being formed by their parents on the outskirts of Santiago. While the country is undergoing its own transition to democracy from the 17-year dictatorship of General Pinochet and their parents try to build a society that reflects their own values, the teenagers, particularly Sofía (Demian Hernández), seek to find their place in the world, all the while watched by a younger generation of children looking to emulate […]