Directors

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“…The Story of a Girl Who Really Loves Her Father and Also Knows She Has to Leave this Complicated, Toxic Relationship”: Writer/director Annabelle Attanasio on Mickey and the Bear

A high-school student in a small Montana town faces tough choices about her life in Mickey and the Bear, the debut feature from writer and director Annabelle Attanasio.  Starring Camila Morrone as Mickey and James Badge Dale as her father Hank, a veteran with drug issues, the movie probes their troubled relationship with unusual insight and compassion. Attanasio trained as an actor and dancer and was cast in roles on The Knick (Cinemax) and the CBS series Bull, and also attended NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She has written and directed numerous shorts. Mickey and the Bear premiered at […]

“‘Follow the Money’ Became So Important to the Structure…”: Lauren Greenfield on Making her Doc about Imelda Marcos and Philippine Politics

In The Queen of Versailles and Generation Wealth, writer and director Lauren Greenfield opened up an elitist world largely off-limits to the public. The Kingmaker, her latest documentary, looks into the life and complex legacy of Imelda Marcos, widow of the former leader of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos. It is currently in theaters prior to its exhibition on Showtime. Five years in the making, The Kingmaker evolved from what was originally a piece about exotic animals transported by the Marcoses to Calauit Island into a full-fledged investigation of Philippine politics. Greenfield and her team wound up covering the election of […]

“Cinema Perfects Life”: Pedro Almodóvar on Rewatching His Films, Using Latin American Music, and Fighting Against Penélope Cruz’s Tears 

Notwithstanding the many awards seasons and release campaigns he’s endured in the United States, the manufactured climate of hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles still makes Spanish cinema idol Pedro Almodóvar uncomfortable. “Everywhere we go here is freezing,” he says as he sits down to talk and scrambles to find something warm to cover himself with.  It’s as if the coldness of these spaces he’s walked repeatedly over the years brings a sensory memory, one that he should have anticipated but still surprises him. Like so, we’ve come to expect a colorful aesthetic brand and tonal irreverence from an Almodóvar […]

A Film on the Arrogance of Man: Josh Murphy on His Environmental Doc, Artifishal

“We are on a path to where eventually there will be no fish, and we will have spent billions of dollars to get to that point.” This dire warning is from one of the many experts in Artifishal: The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions, a new documentary from director Josh Murphy and Patagonia that opened on multiple platforms this past week. It premiered last spring at Tribeca, followed by screenings at Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride and the Seattle International Film Festival, near the heart of the film’s action. From there it’s moved into a series of 550 festival […]

“It’s Like the Secret Bar or Restaurant in NYC That You’re So Privileged to Discover First….”: Beth Aala on Made in Boise

When one thinks of Idaho, potatoes — not pregnancy — immediately comes to mind. Made in Boise, however, the latest from award-winning filmmaker Beth Aala, will forever change how one views this rugged northwestern locale. Following four gestational surrogates, all devoted mothers with children of their own, who carry babies for women and men (often gay singles and couples) both nationwide and around the world, the doc is an eye-opening look at how this red state-based “unofficial surrogacy capital” of the US is redefining family in surprisingly progressive ways. Filmmaker caught up with Aala (Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, Supermensch: The Legend […]

“We Have a Contract with our Audience that We Need to Look Behind the Doors”: Marcus Vetter on His Davos Doc The Forum

When one thinks of the World Economic Forum many words come to mind: Davos, global elite, Bono. One term that decidedly does not is transparency. Which is what makes Marcus Vetter’s The Forum all the more remarkable. With this fly-on-the-wall doc the German director (The Forecaster) becomes the first filmmaker ever to be granted behind-the-scenes access to the exclusive organization. Vetter follows the WEFs octogenarian founder Klaus Schwab from the run-up decision-making (Who to pair with Netanyahu? Who’s moderating the Bolsonaro? Who gets a souvenir cowbell?) all the way through the glitzy event itself (one attended by both the Amazon-pillaging […]

Phillip Youmans on Making His Feature Debut, Burning Cane, at Age 19

Phillip Youmans isn’t sure if he’s returning to New York University. He’s a sophomore at the venerable institution, but he took the fall semester off because he’s a little busy. Last spring, during the second semester of his freshman year, the filmmaker’s debut feature, Burning Cane, won three awards at the Tribeca Film Festival: Narrative Feature, Cinematography (for him), and Actor for co-lead, the estimable Wendell Pierce. Its executive producer is Benh Zeitlin, of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and it’s being released by Ava Du Vernay’s Array, who arranged a two-city theatrical release before its Netflix drop on November […]

“A Black and White Movie in a Stupid Aspect Ratio”: Robert Eggers on The Lighthouse

Eulogized debuts draw ravenous, patient cynics, who stalk the scent of a fledgling’s success to their second movie, hoping their foe might slip. Robert Eggers, a name of contention after headlines announced he would remake Nosferatu (TBD) before his Sundance debut The Witch was released theatrically for audiences to decide if he were worthy themselves, has made his second move.  The Lighthouse, a sophomore effort especially susceptible to readied blows, has made it back with critics on the festival circuit and will now see appraisal from the mainstream on its theatrical bout. But the film expels farts and sailor vulgarity, an […]

“Here I Am, a Stranger, Texting Children”: Michael Beach Nichols on Wrinkles the Clown

It’s tempting to sum up this weekend’s pop culture focus as rooted in chronic coulrophobia. As Todd Phillips’s Joker, the latest big screen incarnation of the DC Comics ubervillan, opens across 4,000 theaters, a fear of clowns (coupled with a pathetic lack of common sense gun laws) has collectively stricken the country. Temporary bans have been put in place that discourage moviegoers from adorning clown makeup, security amped up for extensive bag checks, and theater chains encouraged to emphasize Joker’s well-earned, hard R-rating. Has the mere thought of clowning (that is, the obscuring of identity under facepaint) brought about an […]

“We Didn’t Try to Colonize the Boy in Making the Film”: The Dardenne Brothers on Young Ahmed

For 20 years running, the films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have confronted a single fundamental facet of modern life: class. From their breakout La Promesse (1996) to The Unknown Girl (2016), the messy tangle of money, employment, and morality has defined their work. The brothers take a hard turn, in subject if not style, with Young Ahmed. The film debuted at Cannes, like their previous seven features, where it won the Best Director prize earlier this year. Despite that honor–which they won over Almodóvar, Tarantino, and Malick among other heavyweights–the film has earned the harshest reviews of the Dardennes’ career. […]

“The Tapes were Sticking Together When I Found Them”: Asif Kapadia on Diego Maradona, Digitizing U-Matic and Mindhunter

The greatest soccer player of his time, Diego Maradona was also the sport’s highest-paid athlete until he was forced out of competition due to his criminal connections and substance abuse problems. Director Asif Kapadia built the HBO Sports release Diego Maradona from over 500 hours of archival footage, much of it never seen by the public. After a theatrical run for Oscar consideration, Diego Maradona is now screening on HBO. The documentary focuses on Maradona’s years in Naples, where he led the Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli team to its first league championship. A native of Argentina, Maradona also played in […]

“It Doesn’t Make Sense to Explain Anything”: Angela Schanelec on I Was at Home, But… and Robert Bresson

The first time I saw Angela Schanelec speak, there was nothing for her to smile about: at a cartoonishly hostile Q&A for 2016’s The Dreamed Path, she fielded questions like “Was this supposed to take place in an alternate universe where emotions don’t exist?” and admirably didn’t yield an inch. Returning to TIFF, Schanelec was onhand not just for Q&As for her latest, I Was at Home, But… but to introduce a 35mm rep screening of Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket—one of the foundational works from a director whose influence on, and importance for, Schanelec’s work is immediately apparent. Both when I interviewed her […]

Fantastic Fest 2019: Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen on their Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street

Starring the “bastard son of a hundred maniacs” (the horrifically burned, blade-adorned fictional sweater-wearing slasher, Freddy Krueger), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was itself a kind of bastard son, birthed by good intentions but several less maniacs. Released on November 1st, 1985, the sequel was rushed into theaters on the goodwill and unexpected success of its Wes Craven-directed predecessor. Reviews were less than stellar, and it would take the return of Craven in a creative role to right the ship with the third entry in 1987. Nightmare 2 was forgotten and ignored, deemed an outlier in the franchise […]

“In a Way, It is My Most Gentle Film…”: Manfred Kirchheimer on His NYFF-Premiering Free Time

There’s poetry in the misery of a hot New York summer day. Spike Lee found it, in 1989, with Do the Right Thing: the sun-drunk torpor, the beads of sweat gliding down bare skin. Where winter tends to drive us indoors, away from the streets, summer promotes a more collective suffering. Rear Window hits a similar note of mutual, summertime malaise. The heat forces characters to sleep on their fire escapes and keep their windows open, turning the private public. Before air conditioners, where else could you escape the heat but outside, with everyone else? Manfred “Manny” Kirchheimer considered many […]

“I Want to Make People Aware of Sound, and the Relationship We all Have to It”: Michael Tyburski on His Eerie Urban Drama, The Sound of Silence

At one point in my phone interview with The Sound of Silence director Michael Tyburski, I ask whether a film transforms and changes the filmmaker through the process of its production. His response is one that has an air of lightness even as he describes filmmaking as a grueling mental challenge as well as a physical one. “The film is with you for so long,” he says. “I lost something like 20 pounds during the course of making the movie, so I physically changed. But it’s a bit of a marathon, as I realised, and I was treating it like […]

Béla Tarr on Sátántangó, Hollywood and Digital

Interviewing Béla Tarr is pretty much like what you might expect from religiously reading every interview he does, and the below conversation is no exception to the rule: he speaks calmly, coming off as heated when you’re reading the interview, but the copious profanity is punctuation rather than ire. 25 years out from Sátántangó, Tarr has made himself available for press in light of its 4K restoration from Arbelos Films (the reissue enters limited release at Lincoln Center on October 18). I really couldn’t pass up a chance to talk to a legend—and that’s it! Filmmaker: I was reading some […]

How Signal Space and the VR Film Afterlife Are Moving Interactive Films Forward

Films and video games have been moving closer together for years now, including open world games that mimic cinematic storytelling and videos that include viewer input in the style of a choose-your-own-adventure novel. The mechanics of the latter have often been intrusive, however, making viewers click a link or—with the recent flowering of virtual reality—direct their gaze at an icon indicating their narrative selection. While this can result in compelling products, like the 2017 VR film Broken Night, many filmmakers in the space miss the immersion of a traditional film and want to mask the more game-like control mechanics in […]

“I Think Everything is the Director’s Fault”: Steven Soderbergh on The Laundromat, LLCs and Systemic Corruption

Ever the productive workhorse, Steven Soderbergh has released two movies on Netflix this year. The first: High Flying Bird, a sharply scripted drama set behind the scenes at the NBA that follows a canny sport agent whose end game is to shift the financial power from white owners to black players, i.e. to seize the means (or balls) of production. The second: The Laundromat, a Big Short-style anthology film about the Panama Papers leak that explains the proliferation of offshore bank accounts and tax havens, specifically those provided by the firm Mossack Fonseca, and follows the victims of these global […]