Declare Your Independents: Volume 8

September 4th, 2013 by

GITS development assistant Wendy Cohen here, and welcome to another edition of Declare Your Independents, our new series highlighting the latest developments in the world of independent film.

This week…

Summer 2013 Box Office Wrap Up: Winners and Losers, Lessons Learned

22 Feature Films Of The African Diaspora To See At The Toronto International Film Festival

10 Films To See In September

10 More Indie Films You Must See This September

Your Week in Streaming: From Dolan’s Punk Spirit to Ruiz’s Final Farewell, TIFF Essentials on VOD

The Playlist’s 15 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

The 5 Films That Launched Into a Quickly Heating Oscar Race This Weekend

How the Telluride Film Festival Cheats the System

Again, a reminder from last week’s post:

  • Scott and I encourage any of you who go to see an independent movie to post your reactions to the film in these posts. Good, bad, indifferent, whatever. If there’s a film you want to recommend, do it. Use your words to inspire readers to transport themselves into a local cinema.
  • When you go to the theater, why not whip out your cellphone and snap a shot of something that demonstrates you were there? A photo of the movie poster in the lobby. A shot of your ticket stubs. An image of the movie theater itself. You and your iconoclastic indie film freaks.
  • For any conversations on Twitter re: this initiative, let’s use these two hashtags: #independents and #declareyourindependents
  • And if we come up with a nifty Declaration of Independents, we could try to make it go viral. If you were going to write a Declaration of Independents, what would you include? What if we made it a video manifesto?

We can’t make this work without your participation. Share your experiences with the community so we can open up readers to the fantastically diverse, exciting and evolving world of independent film. We’ll all be extremely grateful that you did!

INDIE SPOTLIGHT: MOVIES TO SEE IN THEATERS THIS WEEK

OPENING FRIDAY (9/6)

Populaire

Spring, 1958: 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle lives with her grouchy widower father who runs the village store. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, she seems destined for the quiet, drudgery-filled life of a housewife. But that’s not the life Rose longs for. When she travels to Lisieux in Normandy, where charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard is advertising for a secretary, the ensuing interview is a disaster. But Rose reveals a special gift – she can type at extraordinary speed. Unwittingly, the young woman awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis. If she wants the job she’ll have to compete in a speed typing competition. Whatever sacrifices Rose must make to reach the top, Louis declares himself her trainer. He’ll turn her into the fastest girl not only in the country, but in the world! But a love of sport doesn’t always mix well with love itself…

A Teacher

Diana (Lindsay Burdge), a young, attractive teacher at a suburban Texas high school, is well-liked by her students and colleagues. Her life seems to be following the status quo, but in reality she’s having a secret affair with her student Eric (Will Brittain). She confides in no one but him, reveling in the teenage terrain of sexting and backseat quickies. Even when the risk of discovery looms over their relationship, her investment in the fantasy remains stronger than reality. Unable to control herself, she heads down a reckless path of self-destruction.

Watch the Sundance Institute’s interview with direct Hannah Fidell here.

Best Kept Secret

A New Jersey schoolteacher named Janet Mino works tirelessly to ensure that her students with special needs reach their maximum potential.

Winnie Mandela

Moving from a remote tribal village to the sprawling metropolis of Johannesburg, South Africa, a proud young Winnie (Jennifer Hudson) soon found love with a rising political star, Nelson Mandela (Terrence Howard). When Nelson was imprisoned for protesting the brutal Apartheid government, Winnie worked tirelessly to win his freedom and to carry on his message of peace and equality. Her struggle to keep the Mandela dream alive was rewarded by years of persecution and imprisonment, including 18 months of solitary confinement. Throughout, her resolve to fight for her freedom, her family and her country never wavered. Her leadership and unconquerable spirit caught the attention of the world and earned her the name “the mother of the nation.”


Adore

Set in an Australian seaside town of otherworldly beauty and shot in lush 35mm Cinemascope, ADORE establishes an aura of fable as it follows two women’s plunge into uncharted waters. Watts and Wright fearlessly engage with both the physical and psychological components of the story, capturing the complex emotions and powerful desires driving their characters. Strong performances from relative newcomers Xavier Samuel (THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE) and James Frecheville (ANIMAL KINGDOM) complement Watts and Wright’s and add another layer of intricacy to the story.


Salinger

SALINGER features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger’s friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle who have never spoken on the record before as well as film footage, photographs and other material that has never been seen. Additionally, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Gore Vidal and Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg and Elizabeth Frank talk about Salinger’s influence on their lives, their work and the broader culture. The film is the first work to get beyond the Catcher in the Rye author’s meticulously built up wall: his childhood, painstaking work methods, marriages, private world and the secrets he left behind after his death in 2010.

Read the Huffington Post’s interview with director Shane Salerno here.

The Ultimate Life

Between the pressures of running his grandfather Red Stevens’ foundation, being sued by his greedy extended family, and seeing his beloved Alexia leave on an extended mission trip to Haiti, Jason Stevens’ world is unraveling. But then he discovers his late grandfather’s journal and through his grandfather’s writings is transported back to 1941 … just after the great depression … and experiences first hand Red Stevens’ incredible rags-to-riches life. With everything he loves hanging in the balance, Jason hopes he can discover THE ULTIMATE LIFE.


My Father And The Man In Black

MY FATHER AND THE MAN IN BLACK is the only inside look at ‘bad boy’ Johnny Cash, as seen through the eyes of his former manager, Canadian impresario Saul Holiff, the man who put Johnny together with June Carter, and a son looking for his father in the shadow of a legend through newly discovered audio diaries and telephone calls between Cash and Holiff from the 1960s and 1970s.


Fire in the Blood

When the medical community first recognized AIDS in the 1980s, it was initially considered a death sentence, claiming nearly everyone diagnosed with the HIV virus until 1996, when antiretroviral medications were introduced that marked a major breakthrough in treatment of AIDS. However, while the new drugs were effective in helping patients live with the disease, they were also expensive, and as AIDS began to spread through Africa, India, and other Third World nations, claiming literally thousands of victims each day, only a tiny handful of patients could afford the new medications. Cipla, a major Indian pharmaceutical firm, set out to address this problem by formulating an affordable generic alternative, but they soon ran into a roadblock when several drug companies who owned patents on antiretroviral medicines took legal action to prevent distribution of low-cost variants on their products. The distribution of Cipla’s product put life-saving drugs in the hands of ten times more patients than before, but does this humanitarian effort deny another firm’s right to make a profit? This battle of principle over property is examined in the documentary Fire In The Blood, which also presents the story of the spread of AIDS in the Third World, and profiles Zackie Achmat, a South African activist who refused AIDS treatment until affordable drugs were available to all who needed them. The first feature film from director Dylan Mohan Gray, Fire In The Blood received its American premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.


Red Obsession

Narrated by Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, this stunningly shot and wildly entertaining documentary chronicles the history and changing nature of the French wine industry. For centuries Bordeaux has commanded a mythical status in the world of fine wines as a symbol of wealth, power and influence. Prices for its prestigious red wines have been breaking records with the emergence of an ever-growing Chinese market that is changing the nature of wine in the 21st century. Featuring interviews with collectors, connoisseurs, and winemakers, the film presents an eye-opening exploration of the complexities and unpredictability of the global market and the economic effects and influence of the voracious wine-obsessed collectors of China. For better or worse, Bordeaux is hitching itself to this new, infinitely wealthy client.


Good Ol’ Freda

Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her. History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band’s circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles’ devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution – advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges – of the greatest band in history.


99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film

Disparate activists gather and camp out in Downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to make points about society’s wealth inequity, political corruption, and corporate influence on government.


Touchy Feely

Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), is a sought after massage therapist and a free spirit, while her brother Paul (Josh Pais) thrives on routine and convention, running a flagging dental practice and co-dependently enlisting the assistance of his emotionally stunted daughter Jenny (Ellen Page). Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which not only makes her occupation impossible but severely hinders the passionate love life between her and her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy). Meanwhile, rumors of Paul’s “healing touch” begin to miraculously invigorate his practice as well as his life outside the office. As Abby navigates her way through a soul-searching identity crisis, her formerly skeptical brother discovers a whole new side of himself. Touchy Feely is about the experience of living in one’s own skin, both literally and figuratively.

Read Flavorwire’s interview with writer/director Lynn Shelton here.


(Il Futuro) The Future

When her parents die in a tragic car accident, adolescent Bianca’s universe is suspended. Entrusted with the care of her younger brother, Tomas, she struggles to hold it together. Life is further complicated when Tomas’s gym-rat friends invite themselves to stay indefinitely. Using Bianca as a lure for a heist they’ve concocted, they convince her to initiate a sexual relationship with an enigmatic blind hermit, Maciste (Rutger Hauer). But as the two spend time together, Bianca unexpectedly finds normalcy and acceptance in the aging B-movie star and former Mr. Universe’s rococo mansion.


Hell Baby

Jack (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) are an expectant couple that moves into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans — a house with a deadly demonic curse. Things soon spiral out of control for Jack and Vanessa, as well as their-not-so-helpfulneighbor F’Resnel (Keegan-Michael Key), Vanessa’s friendly psychiatrist (Michael Ian Black), Vanessa’s Wiccan sister Marjorie (Riki Lindhome) and the detectives assigned to look into the rising body count (Rob Huebel and PaulScheer). Only the Vatican’s elite exorcism team (Garant and Lennon) san save them — or can they?

Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve

100 years after its creation, the power of the Federal Reserve has never been greater. Markets around the world hold their breath in anticipation of the Fed Chairman’s every word. Yet the average American knows very little about the most powerful financial institution on earth. Narrated by acclaimed actor Liev Schreiber, Money For Nothing: Inside The Federal Reserve is the first film to take viewers inside America’s central bank and reveal the impact of Fed policies – past, present and future – on our lives. As Ben Bernanke’s tumultuous tenure comes to a close, join Paul Volcker, Janet Yellen, and many of the world’s best financial minds as they debate the decisions that led the global economy to the brink of collapse and ask whether we might be headed there again.

Our Nixon

Throughout Richard Nixon’s presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. Young, idealistic and dedicated, they had no idea that a few years later they’d all be in prison. This unique and personal visual record, created by H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin, was seized by the FBI during the Watergate investigation, then filed away and forgotten for almost 40 years. OUR NIXON is an all-archival documentary presenting those home movies for the first time, along with other rare footage, creating an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency as never seen before.

Read Filmmaker Magazine’s interview with director Penny Lane here.

NOW IN THEATERS

The Lifeguard

Leigh, almost 30, is living a seemingly perfect life in New York. But when her career and love life both come crashing down, she flees to her suburban hometown and regresses right back into high school life. Picking up right where her teen halcyon days left off, she moves into her old room with her parents, hangs out with friends who never left town, and reclaims her high school job as a condo-complex lifeguard. But as Leigh enjoys shirking off adult life and responsibilities, and enters into an illicit affair, she begins a chain reaction that affects those closest to her.

Watch the Sundance Institute’s interview with the writer/director here.

Afternoon Delight

Rachel is a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirty-something steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, a lackluster sex life, and career that’s gone kaput, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and meets McKenna, a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community.

Read Vanity Fair’s interview with the writer/director here.

Q&A with director Jill Soloway to come.

Closed Circuit

A terrorist attack in London results in the capture of suspect Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto). The attorney general appoints Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) as special advocate on Erdogan’s legal team. On the eve of the trial, Erdogan’s lawyer dies, and a new defense attorney, Martin Rose (Eric Bana), steps in. Martin and Claudia are former lovers, a fact which must remain hidden. As Martin assembles his case, he uncovers a sinister conspiracy, placing him and Claudia in danger.

Instructions Not Included

An Acapulco playboy finds a baby on his doorstep, and he embraces his newfound role as a parent while also stumbling into a new career as a Hollywood stuntman after moving to Los Angeles to search for the girl’s missing mother. Valentin (Eugenio Derbez) romanced his fair share of beauties, but he never realized he had become a father until a former lover left him with a screaming infant. The mother nowhere to be found, Mexico native Valentin sets his sights on L.A., and moves to the city with baby in tow. Over the course of the next six years, Valentin becomes a loving father to his growing daughter Maggie (Loreto Peralta) while rising through the ranks of fearless Hollywood stuntmen. Later, when Maggie’s biological mother shows up determined to take back her daughter, Valentin realizes just how much meaning the little girl has brought to his frivolous life, and vows to fight for custody by any means necessary.

Short Term 12

Short Term 12 is told through the eyes of Grace (Brie Larson), a 20-something supervisor at a facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge – and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throw her into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. While the subject matter is complex, this lovingly realized film finds truth – and humor – in unexpected places.

Read /Film’s coverage of the movie here.

Thanks, Wendy! This week, Declare Your Independents by checking out some of these movies via VOD or in a theater near you!

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