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“My First Studio, Commercially Made Film”: Ryūsuke Hamaguchi on Solaris, Asako I & II and Japanese Film School

When Ryūsuke Hamaguchi’s Happy Hour premiered in 2015, the 317-minute film raised a lot of questions, not least of which: who precisely was Hamaguchi, and what has he been doing for the last decade? There were some unkind trade reviews of his first feature films (Passion and The Depths) but not much else in English to draw upon, and his iMDB resume (including a full feature remake of Solaris!) raised more questions than it answered. Metrograph’s recent retrospective provided some clarity. After his first two features, Hamaguchi collaborated on a trilogy of documentaries collecting testimonies from victims of 2011’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, […]

“My Work Has Always Inhabited That Liminal Space Between Desire and Compulsion”: Five Questions for Michelle Handelman On Her New Installation at signs and symbols

In its final week at Manhattan gallery signs is symbols is artist and filmmaker Michelle Handelman’s installation, LOVER HATER CUNTY INTELLECTUAL, a kind of remix of last year’s large-scale SFMOMA installation Hustlers & Empire for the smaller and more intimate studio space. The previous exhibition was centered around three archetypal characters — “real and imagined hustlers” drawn from three seminal works: Iceberg Slim’s Pimp (1967), Marguerite Duras’s The Lover (1984) and Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit (1968). This new exhibition focuses solely on a character inspired by Duras and the semi-autobiographical protagonist of her novel and performed by queer Latinx artist […]

“Talking About It is One Thing, Making a Movie About It is Something Else”: Abel Ferrara and Nicola Nicolaou Share Old-School NYC Movie Memories

Arriving back in New York, a city with which he is synonymous, Abel Ferrara has been popping up everywhere the past few weeks: from the Tribeca Film Festival, where his documentary The Projectionist had its world premiere, to the Museum of Modern Art, where a near-complete retrospective unspools a half-century of unruly cinema through May 30. The victory lap comes as the Bronx-born expatriate, who now lives contentedly in Rome, ushers a cluster of new work onto screens, including the long-delayed domestic release of Pasolini, starring Willem Dafoe as the radical Italian filmmaker and kindred spirit, as well as the […]

“That’s What Public Art is All About…Everyone is Invited”: Andrey M Paounov on his Christo doc Walking on Water

Andrey M Paounov’s Walking on Water centers on the legendary environmental artist Christo and the realization of his most recent project (his second since the 2009 death of his beloved partner in life and art Jeanne-Claude). 2016’s The Floating Piers was a two-mile-long walkway of monk-yellow fabric that allowed over a million visitors to “float” on foot across Italy’s Lake Iseo. What Walking on Water is not, thankfully, is your standard celebratory portrait of an unconventional maestro (though Christo, who brings to mind a Bulgarian version of Bernie Sanders, is certainly that). Indeed, what makes Paounov’s Locarno-premiering film so refreshingly […]

“Everything We Could Embrace about Motherhood Happened Through the Making of this Movie”: Director Ash Mayfair on Her Vietnam-Set Debut, The Third Wife

The Third Wife marks the ambitious debut of Vietnamese director Ash Mayfair, who gained her MFA from NYU. Set in the late 19th century, her film tracks the fortunes of 14-year-old Mây (Nguyễn Phương Trà My), who is selected as the third wife of a much older man, who expects her to bear him a son. Her life in rural Vietnam becomes further complicated as she begins to develop feelings for the second wife Xuân (Mai Thu Hường) and as pressure builds in the family. Shot by Chananun Chotrungroj (Pop Aye, Hotel Mist), the film largely uses natural light and […]

“Shows of Women Who Eat Bananas Seductively are Banned”: Shengze Zhu on Present.Perfect

Before authorities cracked down in June, 2017, over 400 million customers watched live streaming in China, primarily on three internet sites:;; and (According to Variety, closed in March, 2019.) Live streaming in China resembles amateur YouTube broadcasts here, with a slightly different vocabulary. In China “anchors” host “showrooms,” or channels, and transmit “bullets” to their followers.  Documentary filmmaker Shengze Zhu (Another Year, 2016) screened hundreds of hours of footage for Present.Perfect. What starts as a survey of live streaming narrows down to focus on a handful of anchors, including a seamstress assembling underwear in a clothing […]

“We Don’t Do Pickups, It’s Not Fair to the Actors”: Ritesh Batra on Photograph

Two strangers from different classes meet in Mumbai by accident in Photograph, an Amazon Studios release opening theatrically May 17. Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) scrapes along by selling snapshots of tourists. The middle-class Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) has her life planned for her: a course in accounting, followed by an arranged marriage. Through a familiar screwball-comedy twist, she agrees to pose as Rafi’s betrothed when his grandmother Didi (Farrukh Jaffar) visits. Photograph is not strictly a comedy, but more a study of two deeply unhappy people taking tentative steps out of isolation. Writer and director Ritesh Batra explores his characters with an […]

“Arrogance and Confidence Comes with Film School and That Age”: Joanna Hogg on The Souvenir, Shooting 16mm and Film School

There are many movies about making movies, far fewer about film school. Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir (the first in a diptych—part two is supposed to shoot this summer) grounds itself in the early ’80s at the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS), where Hogg herself went to school. It was there that she experienced a tumultuous relationship, dramatized here as the story of clean-living Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne), a student who falls for Anthony (Tom Burke) after they meet at a party. All well and good, but what Julie doesn’t clock is that Anthony is a heroin addict. A real-life […]

Streaming, Theatrical and Film School: Barry Jenkins, Boots Riley and Aaron Stewart-Ahn at the Miami International Film Festival

Three of current American independent cinema’s most prominent filmmakers recently came together at the Miami International Film Festival to impart some of the hard-earned knowledge they’ve acquired. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk), musician, activist, and storyteller Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You), and journalist-turned-screenwriter Aaron Stewart-Ahn (Mandy) were honored at the festival as the first trio of guests to be part of the inaugural Knight Heroes masterclass and symposium. Ahead of their presentations in front of a crowded Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami, the three creators sat down with Filmmaker to discuss a wide range of topics: the […]