GITS development assistant Wendy Cohen here, and welcome yet again to Declare Your Independents, our new series highlighting the latest developments in the world of independent film!
Robert Redford on Making All Is Lost
Ranking the Best and Worst NC-17-Rated Films of All Time
The Battle for Over 35s at the Box Office
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: MOVIES TO SEE IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
OPENING FRIDAY (11/15)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways) directs Nebraska, a bittersweet dramatic comedy about a father-and-son road trip through an emotionally and economically parched homeland. After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Shot in black and white across four states, Nebraska tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America. Stacy Keach, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk co-star.
Watch Deadline Hollywood’s interview with screenwriter Bob Nelson here.
CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN is produced by Bona Fide Productions’ Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Voltage Pictures’ Craig J. Flores and Wonderful Films’ William Horberg, and is executive produced by Voltage Pictures’ Nicolas Chartier, along with Patrick Newall. When his late mother appears in a vision and tells him to go to Bucharest, Charlie immediately boards a plane across the Atlantic. But when he meets a fellow passenger, Charlie finds himself with another promise to fulfill. Charlie does so – and falls head over heels in love with Gabi, a beautiful musician. However, a vicious gangster has already laid claim to Gabi, and has no intention of letting her go. Determined to protect her, Charlie enters into the hallucinatory, Romanian underworld filled with violence and, strangely enough, love.
The screenplay was on the 2007 Black List. Read ScriptShadow’s review of it here.
On December 12, 2012, some of entertainment’s most iconic names came together at Madison Square Garden for a historic concert to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy. 12-12-12 captures the unprecedented gathering of talent who turned up on stage and behind the scenes to raise over $50 million in one night for the Robin Hood Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to support organizations helping victims in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Performing Artists: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Roger Waters, Eddie Vedder, Chris Martin, Michael Stipe, Adam Sandler, Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Kanye West.
Read NYT‘s profile of director Amir Bar-Lev here.
Joel Allen Schroeder’s documentary Dear Mr. Watterson: An Exploration of Calvin & Hobbes introduces us to numerous people who were profoundly influenced by the philosophical and very warmhearted comic strip created and written by Bill Watterson, who has studiously avoided the spotlight since ending the strip in 1995. Nearly two decades later, the film showcases how the collected works of Watterson still speak to readers everywhere.
Aristocratic ladies, social climbers, politicians, high-flying criminals, journalists, actors, decadent nobles, prelates, artists and intellectuals – whether authentic or presumed – form the tissue of these flaky relationships, all engulfed in a desperate Babylon which plays out in the antique palaces, immense villas and most beautiful terraces in the city? They are all there, and they are not seen in a good light? Jep Gambardella, 65, indolent and disenchanted, his eyes permanently imbued with gin and tonic, watches this parade of hollow, doomed, powerful yet depressed humanity. A moral lifelessness enough to make one’s head spin? And in the background, Rome in summer. Splendid and indifferent, like a dead diva?
Watch an interview with director Paolo Sorrentino here.
Set in the 19th century, FAUST is a free interpretation of the Faust legend and its literary adaptations by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Thomas Mann. A professor (Johannes Zeiler) meets a devilish moneylender (Anton Adasinsky) and sells his immortal soul in exchange for knowledge. The film won the Golden Lion at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
Breathtaking, gripping, layered, and astonishing, FINAL is a gritty, international tale of four separate stories woven together by a common theme: the Rapture. In Los Angeles, Colin Nelson desperately attempts to flee to Bora Bora. Keenly aware that he’s in the Tribulation period, his only hope is in a mysterious man named Frankie. In Tokyo, a covert agent, Masashi, tries to unravel the disappearance of millions of people as the government closes in on him. In Rio De Janeiro, Marie searches for her final relative as time runs out. And on a deserted island in the South Pacific, Tom Wiseman, an avowed atheist, attempts to be rescued after his plane goes down.
SUNLIGHT JR. spotlights hard-working convenience store clerk Melissa (Naomi Watts) and her disabled boyfriend, Richie (Matt Dillon), who are trapped in a generational cycle of poverty. Their luck may be changing when they learn that Melissa has become pregnant. But as soon as she loses her job and they get evicted from the motel they live in, their joy vanishes. Through this adversity, the couple realizes that they can never lose everything as long as they have each other.
Read Filmmaker Magazine’s interview with writer/director Laurie Collyer here.
Junction follows four strung-out meth-addicts who discover a dark secret about a homeowner during a burglary, pitting them not only against the police but against each other. And as they spiral out of control toward the explosive climax the lines blur between right and wrong until the final unexpected twist is revealed.
NOW IN THEATERS
Alex Gibney surveys the rise and fall of acclaimed and then disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong in his documentary The Armstrong Lie. The director presents the complicated history of the controversial figure, including his troubled father-free childhood, his battle back from testicular cancer, his seven consecutive Tour de France championships, the creation of his Live Strong charity, and his subsequent admission to a blood doping regimen that allowed him to stay at the top of the physically demanding sport for so long. Gibney sits down with numerous reporters who tried for years to expose Armstrong’s continuous fibs, and also interviews those who were inside Armstrong’s inner circle. The film picks up in 2013 and presents a riveting, insider’s view of the unraveling of one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of sports. As Lance Armstrong himself says: “I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one.”
Watch THR’s interview with writer/director Alex Gibney here.
In 1938, young orphan Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives at the home of her new foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). When Hans, a kindly housepainter, learns that Liesel cannot read, he teaches the child the wonders of the written language. Liesel grows to love books, even rescuing one from a Nazi bonfire. Though Liesel’s new family barely scrape by, their situation becomes even more precarious when they secretly shelter a Jewish boy whose father once saved Hans’ life.
Watch NY Times’ “Anatomy of a Scene” with director Brian Percival here.
The Motel Life explores the intense bond between two brothers living on the fringes of Reno, Nevada. Orphaned early, they grew up depending on their big imaginations to escape the challenges of their transient life. When one of the brothers is involved in a fatal accident, it forces both of them to choose between running away or facing reality. It is a story of brotherhood, shared dreams and the redemptive power of hope.
Read SB Independent‘s interview with screenwriter Noah Harpster here.
Q&A with co-director Gabe Polsky to come.
In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one malevolent owner (Michael Fassbender), he also found unexpected kindness from another, as he struggled continually to survive and maintain some of his dignity. Then in the 12th year of the disheartening ordeal, a chance meeting with an abolitionist from Canada changed Solomon’s life forever.
Watch DP/30’s interview with writer John Ridley here.
In mid-1980s Texas electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is stunned to learn that he has AIDS. Though told that he has just 30 days left to live, Woodroof refuses to give in to despair. He seeks out alternative therapies and smuggles unapproved drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. Woodroof joins forces with a fellow AIDS patient (Jared Leto) and begins selling the treatments to the growing number of people who can’t wait for the medical establishment to save them.
Robert Reich is an economist, author, and educator who was U.S. Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and who teaches a course on wealth and poverty at the University of California Berkeley. Since the mid-1980s, Reich has been outspoken on the issue of the growing divide between America’s rich and poor; in his book Aftershock, Reich presents his argument that this gulf is slowly but surely wiping out the middle class, and will lead to an economic catastrophe if left unchecked. Filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth presents a powerful look at Reich and his theories in the documentary Inequality for All; featuring footage from Reich’s lectures to students as well as interviews with the author and his conversations with Americans from many walks of life, the film provides disturbing evidence of the roles stagnating wages, growing personal debt, an economy based on consumer spending, and the decline of manufacturing are playing in the weakening of the American economy. Inequality for All received its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Watch IAmRougue’s exclusive interview with economist Robert Reich and director Jacob Kornbluth here.
Many thanks to Wendy for today’s post. Remember to Declare Your Independents by going to a theater or use V.O.D. to watch an indie feature this weekend.