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.
2014 Golden Globe nominations announced
THR’s first documentary roundtable
Is it better to screen an Oscar hopeful early or late in the awards season?
Chiwetel Ejiofor Made a Short Film
Geena Davis’ Two Easy Steps to Make Hollywood Less Sexist
Richard Corliss’ Tribute to Roger Ebert
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: MOVIES TO SEE IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
OPENING FRIDAY (12/13)
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films, American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.
Watch a 10-minute interview with writer/director David O. Russell here.
When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
Read Scott’s exclusive GITS interview with screenwriter Kelly Marcel here!
Before sunrise on August 29, 2005, Nolan Hayes (PAUL WALKER) arrives at a New Orleans hospital with his pregnant wife, Abigail (GENESIS RODRIGUEZ), who has gone into early labor. What should be one of the happiest days of Nolan’s life quickly spirals out of control when the birth goes tragically wrong and Hurricane Katrina ravages the hospital, forcing an evacuation. Told to stay with his child, who is on a ventilator, and await transfer by ambulance, Nolan and his newborn are soon cut off from the world by power outages and rising floodwaters. When no one returns to help, Nolan faces one life-and-death decision after another, fighting to keep his daughter alive, as minute-by-agonizing minute passes, becoming unimaginable “Hours.”
Read CraveOnline‘s interview with writer/director Eric Heisserer here.
A couple’s preteen son and daughter inexplicably reappear after being lost overnight on a desolate, cave-riddled mountainside. Becoming withdrawn and beginning to exhibit strange behavior, their parents quickly assume something sinister happened to them while missing and alone. But after hearing an ominous local legend… the concerned mother and father begin to realize that their children may have fallen prey to something inhuman – and that this dark, unstoppable evil has now returned home with them.
When the Fukushima nuclear power plant failed, causing a massive leak of radiation, the citizens of the nearby town of Futaba were forced to relocate and begin their lives anew. Director Atsushi Funahashi’s documentary Nuclear Nation follows those people as they deal with the destruction of their former city, which was built with pride about the power plant that caused its very demise, in a way that confronts the human cost of mistakes in the realm of nuclear power.
Master documentarian Errol Morris turns the “Interrotron” – his notorious device for filming interview subjects as they gaze directly into the camera – toward the subject of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. One of the most trusted advisors to the Republican elite for more than two decades, Rumsfeld is a fascinating subject whose tendency to share all his thoughts in memo form has created a vast historical archive. From this archive, Morris pores over the past decisions, challenges and artful linguistic constructions that Rumsfeld has built over the years. Probing and insightful, Morris is the unequalled master of unpacking and contextualizing our recent shared history.
Watch The Daily Beasts‘s interview with filmmaker Errol Morris here.
A young girl suffering from amnesia after surviving a house fire that takes her childhood friend’s life, begins a tormented road to recovery.
Fred arrives at Velvet’s doorstep, suitcases in tow. He tells her that he has finally left his wife to be with her, which is news to Velvet since she has not seen him in years and is now with Fred’s recently married son. As Fred’s hopes crash to earth during a conversation brimming with passion, remorse, humor and anger, the twisted heart of a fascinating relationship is revealed.
Broadway World‘s interview with writer/director Neil LaBute here.
A troubled young woman and a blocked writer, both at loose ends in their lives, meet over a phone sex line, and after some provocative and amusing verbal dueling, take a journey together that turns out to be a great deal more romantic and erotic than either of them suspected.
NOW IN THEATERS
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.
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.
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.