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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 […]

Remembering Ben Barenholtz

Exhibitor, distributor, producer and director — one of the seminal figures in the modern American independent film movement, Ben Barenholtz, passed away last Wednesday in Prague. He was 83. In the late ’60s, Barenhotlz’s rep theater, the Elgin Cinema, mixed experimental films with mainstream movies, and it was where the exhibitor popularized the concept of the “midnight movie,” playing Alejandro Jodoworsky’s El Topo for months on end. Another midnight movie — Eraserhead — was an early marquee title of his first distribution company, Libra Films, and later, at Circle Films, he bought and distributed the classic and career-launching Blood Simple, […]

“We Wanted to Satire Wealth and Philanthropy — It’s a Critique of Charity as a Mode of Thinking that Comes Almost Exclusively from a Place of Privilege”: Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt on Diamantino

A soccer star weaving through giant puppies on a stadium pitch clouded by cosmic cotton candy is the wildest and most memorable image from Gabriel Abrantes’s and Daniel Schmidt’s screwball satire, Diamantino, which opens its theatrical run in LA today. Debuting at Cannes in 2018, where it won both the Critics’ Week Grand Prize and the Palm Dog Jury Prize for best canine performance, the roving comedy weaves together a wacky plot with hyper-topical subjects like rising neo-facism, genetic modification and the refugee crisis. Named for its protagonist soccer stud loosely inspired by Christian Ronaldo, Diamantino begins with a fall […]

Seven Films Winning Spring 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grants Announced

SFFILM in partnership with the Kenneth Ranin Foundation announced today the seven feature films receiving a total of $200,000 in funding as part of the SFFILM Ranin Spring, 2019 grant cycle. These grants are one of the few supporting narrative features, especially in the early stages. One of the films here receives development funding, four receive funds for screenwriting and twofor post-production. From the press release: SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community and/or meaningfully explore pressing social issues. 

Applications are […]

Seven Films Winning Spring 2019 SFFILM Ranin Grants Announced

SFFILM in partnership with the Kenneth Ranin Foundation announced today the seven feature films receiving a total of $200,000 in funding as part of the SFFILM Ranin Spring, 2019 grant cycle. These grants are one of the few supporting narrative features, especially in the early stages. One of the films here receives development funding, four receive funds for screenwriting and twofor post-production. From the press release: SFFILM Rainin Grants are awarded twice annually to filmmakers whose narrative feature films will have significant economic or professional impact on the Bay Area filmmaking community and/or meaningfully explore pressing social issues. 

Applications are […]

Beast Beast, Lingua Franca Take Prizes at U.S. in Progress Paris

Beast Beast, the first feature from Danny Madden, took the top prize at U.S. in Progress Paris on Friday. In a statement, the jury (of which I was a member), wrote of the multi-strand story, “The film is a successful attempt to capture the present teenage generation. The director approaches his protagonists with empathy and understanding. The film has a strong political (gun control in particular) and social aspect while remaining an entertaining and creative piece of work.” Beast Beast is produced by Vanishing Angle (Matt Miller, Tara Ansley, and Benjamin Wiessner), and Alec Baldwin is an executive producer. A […]

“Now is an Interesting Moment, When the Cruelties and Inequality are More Exposed than Ever”: Petra Costa on her Netflix-Premiering Doc on Brazilian Politics, The Edge of Democracy

Politics is confusing at the best of times. But in the age of Brexit, Trump and now Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, it’s impossible to keep track of the fake news, alternative facts and the good old-fashioned lies, damned lies and statistics. Since January 1st of 2019, President Bolsonaro has been ruling the roost in Brazil, following hot on the heels of a president who was almost impeached (Michel Temer), one who was impeached (Dilma Roussef) and one who now keeps a prison bed warm (Lula). The political shenanigans came so thick and fast from the biggest nation in South America […]

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Le Cinéma Club Relaunches With Claire Denis’s Very Rare Keep It for Yourself

Founded in 2015 by Marie-Louise Khondji, the streaming site Le Cinéma Club relaunches today with an exciting offering: Claire Denis’s long-lost 1991 40-minute short Keep It for Yourself. The only film she’s ever made in the states, it stars Vincent Gallo and Sara Driver, has a John Lurie score and was shot in New York City. After years of unavailability, a copy was found on a Japanese VHS being sold on Australian eBay. (For more on that story, click here.) From the official press release: The opening weeks of programming are completed with other streaming premieres, rarities and films by new […]

Toy Story 4: Woody and Buzz Embrace the Gig Economy

A few weeks ago, Apple dropped a staggering ill-advised promoted tweet into my timeline: “With the longest battery life in an iPhone ever, you’ll lose power before your iPhone XR will.” I enjoy thinking about death even less than the average person, so my first reaction was that I’m not particularly cheered by a poorly worded suggestion that I’ll probably exit before my technology. My next thought was that Apple had inadvertently provided a solid metaphor for the eternal franchise era: assuming all goes as planned, it is not inconceivable that there will be Star Wars movies coming out after my […]

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese: Tangled Up in Tanner

On a scale of one to ten, I’m probably about a 6.5 when it comes to Bob Dylan. Define one as “Dylan is the single most visible/still living manifestation of hyper-steroidal Boomer nostalgia and must be destroyed,” ten as the level of obsessiveness practiced by the singer-songwriter’s personal scourge A.J. Weberman, who literally coined the term “Dylanology” and famously dug through Robert Zimmerman’s trash for clues. Dylan wasn’t having it; in Weberman’s indelible telling: I’d agreed not to hassle Dylan anymore, but I was a publicity-hungry motherfucker… I went to MacDougal Street, and Dylan’s wife comes out and starts screaming […]

“Reality Isn’t a Given — You Have to Take It”: Writer/Director Donal Foreman on His Fictional Memoir, The Image You Missed

“I’ve been able to develop more of a sense of being from somewhere by not being there…. Your nationality starts to feel like a more important part of you when you’re away from home.” Writer, director, and editor Donal Foreman splits his time between his native Dublin and Brooklyn, his home for close to a decade. Debuting in 2017, The Image You Missed is his first feature documentary, a fictional memoir of Donal’s complex relationship with his filmmaker father, Arthur MacCaig. MacCaig, the son of Irish immigrants, was a documentary filmmaker born in New Jersey in 1948. He made his […]

Cutting on the Bias: Abel Ferrara Collaborator Frank DeCurtis

With a storied, diverse career, Frank DeCurtis has been a journeyman in the arts for over four decades. His background in performance, casting, fashion, props, set decoration and production design led him to collaborate with Abel Ferrara as a producing and creative partner for a dozen projects spanning more than 18 years. While much has been made of their sojourn abroad in the wake of 9/11, DeCurtis’s perspective has rarely been articulated in print. Filmmaker spoke to DeCurtis in downtown Manhattan about his trajectory, how an artist can effect an impact in many fields, and the inherent challenges to creating […]

Sundance Institute Announces Documentary Fund and Stories of Change Grantees

The Sundance Institute today announced the 25 nonfiction films that will receive Documentary Fund and Stories of Change grants. The grants span all the way from initial project development to audience building, and the list includes custom grants from The Kendeda Fund, which supports projects dealing with environmental themes as well as gun violence. Stories of Change grants, a creative partnership with The Skoll Foundation, support social entrepreneurs and independent storytellers. Reports the Sundance Institute, “the supported projects come from Canada, Chile, China, Estonia, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and the United States. 21 projects, or 84%, […]

Put It In Writing: Living Through the Films of Abel Ferrara, Part Five

Evan Louison last wrote about Abel Ferrara for Filmmaker‘s 25th anniversary issue in his report, “Letter from Rome.” Given the assignment to interview Ferrara in conjunction with his month-long MoMA retrospective, Louison responded with a five-part personal memoir that tracks the impact of the director and his work on his own life. Check back each day this week for the next in the series, and read Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four. A Glorious Exile, a Spirit Returning to Form The soul answered and said, What binds me has been slain, and what turns me about has […]

Put It In Writing: Living Through the Films of Abel Ferrara, Part Four

Evan Louison last wrote about Abel Ferrara for Filmmaker‘s 25th anniversary issue in his report, “Letter from Rome.” Given the assignment to interview Ferrara in conjunction with his month-long MoMA retrospective, Louison responded with a five-part personal memoir that tracks the impact of the director and his work on his own life. Check back each day this week for the next in the series, and read Part One, Part Two and Part Three. On the Run and Playing a Dangerous Game “Hell is here and now, and so is the opportunity to know heaven. I you take the journey, you’ll […]

Put It In Writing: Living Through the Films of Abel Ferrara, Part Three

Evan Louison last wrote about Abel Ferrara for Filmmaker‘s 25th anniversary issue in his report, “Letter from Rome.” Given the assignment to interview Ferrara in conjunction with his month-long MoMA retrospective, Louison responded with a five-part personal memoir that tracks the impact of the director and his work on his own life. Check back each day this week for the next in the series, and read Part One and Part Two. III. Alive and WELL “The nature of evil is that it’s seductive. If evil presented itself to us as it really is… no one would be lured. No one […]