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“People are Actually Reading My Scripts When I Send Them!”: Brea Grant on Tribeca Premiere 12 Hour Shift

It was to be a triumphant springtime festival run for Brea Grant. The actor, writer and director (who first won notoriety a decade ago on the NBC series Heroes), had not one, but two, premieres on her calendar at the season’s biggest film festivals, South by Southwest and Tribeca. Grant wrote and has the lead role in Lucky, a thriller about a self-help author besieged by a stalker. The SXSW selection got sidelined as the festival became one of the first to cancel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, 12 Hour Shift, the pitch-black comedy Grant wrote and directed, likewise […]

“Rodeos are Incredibly Dangerous”: Annie Silverstein on Bull

In Annie Silverstein’s Bull, an at-risk teenage girl, Kris (by Amber Havard), is thrust into a relationship with neighbor Abe (Rob Morgan), a rodeo bullfighter nearing the end of his career. Silverstein’s feature debut builds out from her 2014 short Skunk, both set in a blue-collar part of Houston where rural and urban poverty collide. Most film productions drop in on locations, shoot what they need and depart. Silverstein and her husband and writing partner Johnny McAllister take a different approach, embedding themselves in communities for months and even years before filming. Bull has a documentary realism, but also a deep, […]

Five Questions for Writer/Director Kerem Sanga about His Tribeca Competition Drama, The Violent Heart

Played with a compelling mixture of sensitivity and suppressed rage by Joven Adepo (The Leftovers, Sorry for Your Loss) Daniel, the young auto mechanic and ex-con at the center of Kerem Sanga’s The Violent Heart, is a man imprinted by the past. We meet him first in flashback when, as a young boy, he crouches in dark woods, watching a horrible crime unfold. And while the exact events of that evening remain a mystery for much of the story, the powerlessness Daniel feels that night, and the aftermath of guilt, are all we need to understand the complicated shadings of […]

“We’re Definitely Not ‘Social Distancing’ Distance”: Zia Anger on Performing My First Film Online

After nearly two years of performing My First Film live in theaters, Zia Anger has reconfigured her piece for livestreaming. Currently being streamed to small groups in preview mode, each performance is announced on Anger’s Twitter the morning of; capacity is small and quickly filled on a first come, first served email RSVP basis. The middle core of the show—Anger’s story about her never-premiered first feature, told via a mix of video footage and select online browsing, narrated via TextEdit narration typed out in real time—has remained essentially the same. The beginning and ending have been necessarily rethought: where a key […]

“It’s a Pretty Unambiguous Condemnation of a New Age Answer to Life’s Problems”: Writer/Director Todd Haynes on Safe

With Todd Haynes’s classic Safe now streaming on Criterion Channel (and seeming utterly prescient in its concerns), we’re reposting our Summer, 1995 cover story: Larry Gross’s interview with Haynes. — Editor Todd Haynes, director of Sundance Grand Prize Winner Poison and the underground classic Superstar, was inspired to make his latest feature, Safe, by his visceral response to New Age recovery therapists who tell the physically ill that they have made themselves sick, that they are responsible for their own suffering. Carol White, played superbly by Julianne Moore, is an archetypally banal homemaker in the San Fernando Valley who one […]

The Violence of Power Relations: Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles on Bacurau

Bacurau is the name of an angry night bird that exists in many different parts of Brazil, but that is only called bacurau in the Brazilian Northeast. Bacurau, the latest film by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles—which gets a US release this weekend—uses the motif of the night bird to tell the story of a small village in the Brazilian Northeast that is facing imminent erasure, targeted by international hunting tourists that have teamed up with domestic predators. The film reprocesses motifs from Hollywood genre movies and Italian westerns in the landscape of the sertão, the drylands of formal […]

“The Concept Stemmed from Loneliness…”: Writer, Director and Star James Sweeney on his Romantic Comedy, Straight Up

Harkening back to Golden Age romantic comedies while placing its young characters in of-the-moment relationship scenarios, Straight Up, the feature debut of director, writer and actor James Sweeney, opens in theaters today from Strand Releasing. Sweeney plays Todd, a gay man and software developer questioning his sexuality who falls romantically (and perhaps just platonically) with an aspiring actress played by Katie Findlay. Shot in eye-popping colors within a 4:3 frame, and with sharp dialogue delivered rat-a-tat-tat, Straight Up, which premiered at last year’s Frameline Film Festival, subverts the tensions traditionally found in romantic comedies in service to a more inclusive […]