GITS development assistant Wendy Cohen here, and welcome to the return of Declare Your Independents, our new series highlighting the latest developments in the world of independent film.
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Doc Oscar entry Cinemability, exploring disabilities in film and TV, making waves
Michel Gondry on the state of indie film, documentaries, and the money it takes to dream big
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: MOVIES TO SEE IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
OPENING FRIDAY (11/29)
OLDBOY is a provocative, visceral thriller that follows the story of Joe Doucette, a man who is abruptly kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement, for no apparent reason. When he is suddenly released without explanation, he begins an obsessive mission to find out who imprisoned him, only to discover that the real mystery is why he was set free.
Watch DreadCentral‘s interview with screenwriter Mark Protosevich here.
Nelson Mandela’s life story is told in this adaptation of the South African leader’s autobiography that details his early life, education, 27-year imprisonment, and eventual presidency and rebuilding of the previously segregated country. William Nicholson provides the script, with Idris Alba and Naomie Harris heading up the cast.
Read ACHUKA’s extensive interview with writer William Nicholson here.
Journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. Since the legendary success of his one and only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city’s literary and social circles, but when his sixty-fifth birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the extravagant nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome in all its glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.
Watch writer/director Paolo Sorrentino present film at the Cannes film festival here.
Hoping to escape from his troubled past, former DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) moves to a seemingly quiet backwater town in the bayou with his daughter. However, he finds anything but quiet there, for the town is riddled with drugs and violence. When Gator Bodine (James Franco), a sociopathic druglord, puts the newcomer and his young daughter in harm’s way, Broker is forced back into action to save her and their home. Based on a novel by Chuck Logan.
Watch an interview with writer and co-star Sylvester Stallone here.
THE UNBELIEVERS follows renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss across the globe as they speak publicly about the importance of science and reason in the modern world – encouraging others to cast off antiquated religious and politically motivated approaches toward important current issues.
Visionary filmmaker Peter Mettler (Gambling, Gods and LSD) traverses the globe to explore (and explode) our conceptions of time, in this entrancing combination of documentary and mind-expanding philosophical speculation
Langston (Jacob Latimore), a Baltimore teen raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson), travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with estranged relatives, the Rev. Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his wife, Aretha (Angela Bassett). However, Langston soon finds that Cobbs has strict rules, and the youth is unwilling to follow them. Instead, he sets out on a return journey to his mother and finds the value of faith, healing and family along the way.
Read Indiewire’s interview with writer/director Kasi Lemmons here.
NOW IN THEATERS
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.
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.
Orphan Pip rises from humble beginnings thanks to a mysterious benefactor. Moving through London’s class-ridden world as a gentleman, Pip uses his new status to pursue Estella, a beautiful, heartless heiress he’s always loved. The shocking truth behind his fortune will have devastating consequences for everything he holds dear. Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) adapts Charles Dickens with this Number 9 Films production once again chronicling an orphan (Jeremy Irvine) who learns he has an unknown benefactor and sets off to London with “great expectations.” Helena Bonham Carter co-stars.
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.
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.
Captain Phillips is a multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is — through director Paul Greengrass’s distinctive lens — simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller, and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who takes him hostage. Phillips and Muse are set on an unstoppable collision course when Muse and his crew target Phillips’ unarmed ship; in the ensuing standoff, 145 miles off the Somali coast, both men will find themselves at the mercy of forces beyond their control.
Read Word and Film‘s exclusive Q&A with writer Billy Ray 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.