GITS development assistant Wendy Cohen here, and welcome yet again to another edition of Declare Your Independents, our ongoing series highlighting the latest developments in the world of independent film.
Sundance unveils its 2014 lineup
Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, last major Oscar contender, unveiled
Robert Altman’s “Nashville”: The First Modern TV Musical?
Underreported by news outlets, at least 5 documentaries qualifying for Academy Award consideration were directed by black women
Inside the 2013 Gotham Awards
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: MOVIES TO SEE IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
OPENING FRIDAY (12/6)
In the Coen brothers’ latest film, idealistic young folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) struggles to make a name for himself in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s. As the harsh winds of winter blow through the streets of New York City, the homeless singer/songwriter drifts from couch to couch in search of his big break. Feeling that he’s finally burned his bridge with longtime friends and fellow folk singers Jim (Justin Timberlake) and Jean (Carey Mulligan), and convinced that his recent work on a novelty song will lead him nowhere, Llewyn hitches a ride to Chicago with the mysterious Roland Turner (John Goodman) and his taciturn valet Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) on a mission to audition for famed impresario Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham). Meanwhile, Llewyn discovers that he himself may be the biggest obstacle on his arduous road to success.
Watch a panel with the Coen brothers at the London BFI Film Festival here.
From Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart, comes a gripping and gritty drama about family, fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so – with nothing left to lose – Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. The impressive cast of Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson are rounded out by Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard.
Watch Complex magazine’s interview with writer/director Scott Cooper here.
On the last day of the first manned mission to Mars, a crew member of Tantalus Base believes he has made an astounding discovery – fossilized evidence of bacterial life. Unwilling to let the relief crew claim all the glory, he disobeys orders to pack up and goes out on an unauthorized expedition to collect further samples. But a routine excavation turns to disaster when the porous ground collapses, and he falls into a deep crevice and near certain death. His devastated colleagues attempt to recover his body. However, when another vanishes they start to suspect that the life-form they have discovered is not yet dead. As the group begins to fall apart it seems their only hope is the imminent arrival of the relief ship Aurora.
Aiden (Josh Lawson) craves a better life. A life away from his gruesome job as a crime scene photographer, working alongside his detective friend Pete (Ron Perlman). A meaningful life where he can escape the hard streets of Detroit, fall in love with the perfect woman and save the world from evil. As Aiden’s dark imagination starts to leak into reality, he meets Virginia (Emma Lung), a younger woman with her own dilemmas and desires. Estranged from her boyfriend Ravi (Edward Furlong,) Virginia explores an uncertain relationship with Aiden, who becomes increasingly emboldened to live out his vigilante fantasies. But as Virginia is faced with the disturbing truth of Aiden’s inner life, Aiden learns that he will pay a terrible price for his twisted imagination.
Gemma (Penelope Cruz) returns Sarajevo with her son, Pietro, after escaping the war-torn city sixteen years earlier. Diego (Emile Hirsch), Pietro’s father, remained behind and later died in the Bosnian conflict. As Gemma tries to repair her difficult relationship with Pietro, she also confronts her past. Gemma first met and fell in love with Diego in Sarajevo. They desperately wanted children but she could not conceive. Amidst the siege of 1992, they found a possible surrogate and Gemma pushed her into Diego’s arms, only to be overwhelmed by guilt and jealousy. Now, a revelation awaits Gemma – one that will force her to face the full extent of her loss, the true horror of war and the redemptive power of love.
Watch Collider‘s interview with writer/director Sergio Castellitto here.
After years of struggling to conceive with her husband, Lizzie has given up hope of having a baby on her own. But when her best friend Andie finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand, an unexpected solution arises: Andie offers to have the baby and give it to Lizzie. The couple agrees to the plan, on one condition: Andie must move in with them for the duration of the pregnancy. But can the women’s friendship survive until birth? Jessie McCormack’s debut is a refreshingly candid comedy about planning ahead for life’s unexpected detours.
Driving cross-country to a job interview, Colin takes a short cut and comes across a fatal road accident. One of the drivers, Jina, is shaken but unhurt; the other has been killed instantly. Beside the dead body is a briefcase full of money, which Colin turns in to the local police. But getting out of town proves a nightmare, as Colin’s good deed causes a series of bizarre events to unfold.
Watch SBS’s interview with writer/director Craig Lahiff here.
A corporate attorney quits his job at a high profile law firm to become the singer at a an old cocktail lounge called the Foxes Den, becoming deeply involved in the lives of its staff and regulars.
NOW IN THEATERS
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 the film at Cannes here.
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.
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.
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.