INTERVIEW: Benh Zeitlin, co-writer/director of Wendy

Beasts of the Southern Wild was the indie darling of 2012 having racked up prestigious festival wins en route to four Oscar nominations. Despite being credited to “Court 13” as a collective at the beginning of the end credits, the driving force behind the film was New York native and current Louisiana resident Benh Zeitlin. He earned two of those nods as director and co-writer while also serving as co-composer alongside Dan Romer. It was the type of whirlwind ride that propels many filmmakers straight to Hollywood and yet Zeitlin…

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INTERVIEW: Keith Behrman, writer/director of Giant Little Ones

One of my favorite things about going to the Toronto International Film Festival is finding the time to see the smaller movies that aren’t on everyone’s must-see lists. While the gamble sometimes turns out to be a dud, the risk is easily justified when you’re able to discover a work as genuinely memorable as Keith Behrman‘s Giant Little Ones in the process. A film about adolescence that isn’t afraid to delve into sexuality’s ever-broadening landscape of experimentation and fluidity with still violent repercussions, this story of two best friends falling…

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INTERVIEW: Xavier Legrand, writer/director of Custody

It’s always a treat to see a director whose work you’ve enjoyed in short form make the leap to features—especially when the latter debuts at a venue as auspicious as the Toronto International Film Festival. This is exactly what happened with Xavier Legrand last year. Less than half a decade after earning his first Oscar nomination for the wonderful Just Before Losing Everything, he decided to revisit those same characters in the direct aftermath of its dramatically tense events. The result is Custody, a brilliant look at the emotional and…

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INTERVIEW: Matt Tyrnauer, director of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, Matt Tyrnauer‘s Citizen Jane: Battle for the City has received rave reviews across the country as it opened in limited release April 21st, 2017. Centering on Jane Jacobs—a journalist, author, and activist—the film showcases the problems inherent to how urban planners in the mid-twentieth century worked. One of the key proponents of this movement to teardown what he deemed “slums” for new, mammoth housing projects of concrete erasing the very communities they sought to “save” was New York’s Robert Moses. His…

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INTERVIEW: Aaron Moorhead, director/cinematographer & Justin Benson director/writer of The Endless

As someone who loved Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson‘s Spring to the point of seeking out everything else they had done before that point, hearing about a new work debuting at Tribeca got me excited to see what they would deliver. My assumption was that it was the Aleister Crowley picture they spoke about when I interviewed them last year—I was wrong. While that discovery wasn’t surprising considering how long projects gestate, it was shocking to discover The Endless proved to be a sequel to their first feature collaboration Resolution.…

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INTERVIEW: Stephen Frears, director of The Program

It’s proving to be a couple of busy months for legendary director Stephen Frears, fresh off his delightful true-life story Philomena making an Oscar run in 2013. Not only does he have his Lance Armstrong biopic The Program opening US theaters this Friday (March 18th), but his newest Florence Foster Jenkins also hits UK screens May 6th. It appears the filmmaker has embraced telling the tales of real people whether of empathetic note or infamy. This hectic schedule made cementing an interview very difficult, regardless, we were still able to…

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INTERVIEW: Sebastian Schipper, director/cowriter of Victoria

The word on the street about Victoria is that it’s a must-see for one reason: its entire two-plus hour runtime was captured in a single, pulse-pounding continuous take. While that aspect is definitely paramount, don’t think the film has nothing else to offer. This thing gets your blood pumping as much from the authentic performances of regular people in over their heads as it does the technical artistry. And the man leading the way to orchestrate both these halves is Sebastian Schipper. We talked with the co-writer/director about his trust…

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INTERVIEW: Olivier Nakache, cowriter/codirector of Samba

Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s (shown above at middle and right with Omar Sy) Intouchables was France’s Oscar hopeful in 2012 and did make the January shortlist. An infectious crowd-pleaser based on a true story, it vaulted Sy into stardom with a César win over The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin and ultimately co-staring roles in Hollywood blockbusters X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World. It most likely also opened a floodgate of offers for the duo at the helm, but these Frenchmen aren’t interested in bringing someone else’s vision to…

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INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, director of Stray Dog

If you don’t think someone fresh off an Oscar nomination would spend five years to follow her critically acclaimed fictional narrative with the first feature-length documentary of her career, you don’t know Debra Granik. When I interviewed her back in 2010 in support of Winter’s Bone, she was already talking about documentary observation as being key to her work. After all, that movie and her debut Down to the Bone both utilized real people from the towns in which she filmed for visual and contextual authenticity. One of those locals—Ronnie…

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INTERVIEW: Jalmari Helander, writer/director of Big Game

After finding success from his debut feature Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale—an expansion of a world he created through two previous shorts all released together by Oscilloscope—Finnish writer/director Jalmari Helander did what many European filmmakers do and went English-language for his sophomore effort. But he did so on his terms by once again writing his own script and recruiting familiar faces to act against the newly accessible stable of international stars provided to him. The result is action romp Big Game and it has the potential of turning even more…

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INTERVIEW: Kris Swanberg, director/cowriter of Unexpected

A hit at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival now getting a limited release from The Film Arcade, Unexpected proves a welcome breath of fresh air for stories dealing with pregnancy against the usual romantic comedy fare usurping the plot point for cheap laughs. Director/cowriter Kris Swanberg utilized her own experiences as a mom and from teaching within the Chicago Public School system as a basis for her look at a teacher and student bonding over their shared nine-month journeys to motherhood. Steeped in reality and performed with authenticity by a…

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