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Sean Baker Cut Up Paul Thomas Anderson Long Takes To See if a Doc-Style Steadicam Would Work on ‘The Florida Project’

  • Indiewire
Sean Baker Cut Up Paul Thomas Anderson Long Takes To See if a Doc-Style Steadicam Would Work on ‘The Florida Project’
Sean Baker is a filmmaker who puts a premium on making his films feel as authentic as possible. For example, sometimes he will use a handheld camera to follow his characters — who are often played by first-time performers — to give a scene a sense of documentary realism. After “Tangerine” — Baker’s iPhone-shot indie breakout — he started to wonder if image stabilization advances in smartphone cameras was changing what audiences thought “real” footage looked like.

“Audiences see homemade raw footage, but with a stabilizer on,” said Baker when he was guest on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast. “So everybody is shooting their Youtube and Instagram videos and they are all very smooth — so we’re changing the way audiences think about how cameras are held and if shots are stable or not.” This led Baker to consider if he could employ a documentary-style steadicam effectively to his next film, “The Florida Project.
See full article at Indiewire »

Doc NYC 2017 Women Directors: Meet Tiffany Bartok — “Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story”

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story

Tiffany Bartok worked consistently as an actress but soon discovered a talent for makeup artistry. She began to sharpen her makeup skills on celebrities and film crews. Bartok made the decision to direct and produce original films including her award-winning documentary “Altered By Elvis” and the short film “Little Pumpkin,” which screened at SXSW.

Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story” will premiere at the 2017 Doc NYC film festival on November 16.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

TB: “Larger Than Life” is a feature documentary about the extraordinary life of the first celebrity makeup artist, Kevyn Aucoin. Overcoming all obstacles laid before him in his small town of Lafayette, Louisiana, Kevyn rose to fame transforming faces into extraordinary art pieces all while examining who he himself truly was.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

TB: As a makeup artist,
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Sliff 2017 Interview: Robert T. Herrera – Writer and Director of Palacios

Palacios screens Saturday, November 11th at 2:00pm at The Tivoli Theater (6350 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis) as part of this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival. Ticket information can be found Here.

Eugene, an inner-city teen, escapes the city streets and hides away on a Midwest city rooftop during the Fourth of July holiday. He is found by Holly, a widowed alcoholic, who lives in the secluded rooftop dwelling with her Boston terrier. They commit to spending the day together above the city as they wait for a hopeful resolution to Eugene’s situation. As the day passes, a friendship grows even as their personal realities begin to catch up with them.

Robert T. Herrera, writer and director of Palacios, took the time to answer questions about his film for We Are Movie Geeks.

Interview conducted by Tom Stockman

Tom Stockman: What was your filmmaking experience before Palacios?
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

The 20 Best Director-Cinematographer Collaborations Working Today

  • Indiewire
The 20 Best Director-Cinematographer Collaborations Working Today
The gravitational pull that exists between great directors and great cinematographers is natural. Many of the best pairings throughout film history have been project based, with the director or producer picking a cinematographer to achieve a specific look for a particular film. There’s a difference between providing a talented cinematographer with the perfect platform to apply their skills and a director-cinematographer collaboration that elevates the work of both artists, regardless of material.

This list is less about identifying the best looking films of the era – although many are here – and more about celebrating collaborations that have allowed many of the best filmmakers working today to fully express themselves on the big screen.

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson, Dp: Robert Elswit

The first time Paul Thomas Anderson did not work with Elswitt – “The Master,” shot by Mihai Mălaimare Jr. – the results were (thankfully) great, but it’s fascinating that the director
See full article at Indiewire »

Michael Fassbender: After a Year of Flops, Here’s How He Can Recover from ‘The Snowman’

Michael Fassbender: After a Year of Flops, Here’s How He Can Recover from ‘The Snowman’
Welcome to Career Watch, a vocational checkup of top actors and directors and those who hope to get there. In this edition, we take on Michael Fassbender.

Bottom Line: Fassbender is an asset in any ensemble, from the “X-Men” franchise to “Inglourious Basterds.” Those franchises inflate his bankability in foreign territories, and he’s had two Oscar nominations, but he lacks marquee value. He was the biggest star in well-reviewed $97-million sequel “Alien: Covenant” (Metacritic: 65), which scored just $240 million worldwide, down dramatically from the $430 million earned by its predecessor, “Prometheus.” Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin didn’t even know who Fassbender was when his name came up to play the lead in hot project “Steve Jobs” (Metacritic: 82); and sure enough, even with a full-tilt Oscar push that brought him his first Best Actor nomination, the $30-million movie tanked with just $34 million worldwide. Fassbender tends to be cast as troubled antiheroes (Magneto, Macbeth,
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

Michael Fassbender: After a Year of Flops, Here’s How He Can Recover from ‘The Snowman’

  • Indiewire
Michael Fassbender: After a Year of Flops, Here’s How He Can Recover from ‘The Snowman’
Welcome to Career Watch, a vocational checkup of top actors and directors and those who hope to get there. In this edition, we take on Michael Fassbender.

Bottom Line: Fassbender is an asset in any ensemble, from the “X-Men” franchise to “Inglourious Basterds.” Those franchises inflate his bankability in foreign territories, and he’s had two Oscar nominations, but he lacks marquee value. He was the biggest star in well-reviewed $97-million sequel “Alien: Covenant” (Metacritic: 65), which scored just $240 million worldwide, down dramatically from the $430 million earned by its predecessor, “Prometheus.” Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin didn’t even know who Fassbender was when his name came up to play the lead in hot project “Steve Jobs” (Metacritic: 82); and sure enough, even with a full-tilt Oscar push that brought him his first Best Actor nomination, the $30-million movie tanked with just $34 million worldwide. Fassbender tends to be cast as troubled antiheroes (Magneto, Macbeth,
See full article at Indiewire »

Riley Keough Enters ‘The Lodge’ for ‘Goodnight Mommy’ Directors

After working with George Miller, Steven Soderbergh, Lars von Trier, Andrea Arnold, David Robert Mitchell, Jeremy Saulnier, Trey Edward Shults, and more in just the last few years, Riley Keough has emerged as one of the most talented up-and-coming actresses. She’s now secured another promising role for her next project.

Keough will star in The Lodge, the English-language debut from Goodnight Mommy directors Severin Fiala and Veronica Franz, Screen Daily reports. Sticking in the horror genre, the film “tells the story of a young woman and her new stepchildren who are menaced by a terrifying supernatural force while spending Christmas in their remote cabin.”

The script comes from the directors and writer Sergio Casci, and with production set to start this January, backed by FilmNation, hopefully we’ll see it before the end of 2018. In the meantime, read our interviews with Keough and the directors.
See full article at The Film Stage »

Fresh, diverse and earthy: 2017’s great debuts from UK film directors

The end of the London Film Festival highlights the growing success of a new wave of UK film-makers, including Michael Pearce and Rungano Nyoni

Ever since the late Colin Welland collected his screenwriting Oscar for Chariots of Fire in 1982 and declared with a most un-British triumphalism that “The British are coming!”, such public displays of confidence in the country’s film industry have been uncommon, even frowned upon. Perhaps it is time to amend Welland’s cry this year and state the obvious: the British are here. In 2017, there have been more distinctive homegrown debut features funded, made and released, displaying a greater diversity of theme and focus, than in any other year in recent memory.

Previously it has been possible to identify small, localised pockets of new talent: think of 2006, when both Andrea Arnold (Red Road) and Paul Andrew Williams (London to Brighton) made their debuts, or 2008, which brought
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s ‘Loveless’ Takes Top Honors at London Film Festival

Andrey Zvyagintsev’s ‘Loveless’ Takes Top Honors at London Film Festival
Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless” has won the award for best film at the BFI London Film Festival, the second time that the Russian director has claimed the honor. The film, about a boy who vanishes while his parents undergo an acrimonious divorce, is Russia’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race.

The festival jury, headed by director Andrea Arnold, called “Loveless” a “very poetic and beautiful film, dark and told with a fierce passion. Although the film concentrated on the intimate story of one family in Russia, it felt like a universal tragedy, one that we recognized as one of the world¹s great sadnesses. The filmmaker elevated the personal to a social and political statement.

Loveless” screened in Cannes, and will be Zvyagintsev’s third film to be submitted as Russia’s official Oscar contender, after “The Return” and “Leviathan.” The latter won the London Film Festival’s award for best film in 2014.

At a ceremony
See full article at Variety - Film News »

London Film Festival: Andrey Zvyagintsev's 'Loveless' Wins Top Prize

London Film Festival: Andrey Zvyagintsev's 'Loveless' Wins Top Prize
Loveless, Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's poetry tragedy that first bowed in Cannes, has won the best film award in the BFI London Film Festival's official competition.

The announcement was made Saturday night during a special ceremony at the U.K.'s capital Banqueting House, three years after Zvyagintsev's previous film, the Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated Leviathan, won the same award in 2014. Loveless, Russia's submission for the foreign-language film Oscar, will be distributed in the U.S. by Sony Pictures Classics in early 2018.

The event — hosted by James Nesbitt and with guests including Andrea Arnold, Hayley Atwell, Eric Bana, Jason Isaacs,...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Andrea Arnold Named Jury President of BFI London Film Fest’s Official Competition

Arnold: Cinéma Canal+/YouTube

Fish Tank” director Andrea Arnold is heading to the 61st BFI London Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter confirms that the Oscar-winning filmmaker will lead the official competition’s jury. Arnold will preside over a jury that includes actress Lily Cole (“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”) and producer Emma Thomas (“Dunkirk”), amongst others.

Arnold isn’t the only woman who will serve as a jury president. “The Trip” producer Melissa Parmenter is heading the first feature competition.

Red Road,” “Wuthering Heights,” and episodes of “I Love Dick” and “Transparent” are among Arnold’s directing credits. She screened her most recent feature film, “American Honey,” at last year’s edition of BFI London Film Fest. The Cannes’ Jury Prize and British Independent Film Award-winning flick follows a group of teens and young adults who travel through the Midwest selling magazine subscriptions.

“We’ve grown up mainly on male stories, and most of the films have been written and directed by men — and that’s only half of the human race,” Arnold has said. “I remember going to a women’s film festival and feeling a slight amount of trepidation, but actually it was fantastic. Some of the films made me cry because they really spoke to me. It was then I realized up till then I had mostly been spoken to by men in cinema.”

Arnold won an Oscar in 2005 for her short film “Wasp.”

The BFI London Film Fest begins Wednesday, October 4, and will run through October 15. “Battle of the Sexes,” Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s biopic about the famous Billie Jean King v. Bobby Riggs tennis match, will make its European premiere as the fest’s American Express Gala on October 7. Among the other films screening are Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Tiff’s People’s Choice Award winner starring Frances McDormand as a grieving mother hell-bent on justice.

Andrea Arnold Named Jury President of BFI London Film Fest’s Official Competition was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Andrea Arnold Heads Up London Film Festival Jury

Andrea Arnold Heads Up London Film Festival Jury
Andrea Arnold — the celebrated British director behind American Honey, Fish Tank and Red Road — has been named jury president for the official competition of the BFI London Film Festival, which kicks off Wednesday.

The helmer will lead a group of jury members including filmmaker Babak Anvari, who won a BAFTA last year for his debut feature Under the Shadow; actor Eric Bana; film journalist and programmer Ashley Clarke; actress and model Lily Cole; Russian filmmaker Alexei Popogrebsky; and Emma Thomas, producer of Dunkirk, the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception.

Elsewhere, documentary filmmaker and Passion Pictures head John Battsek will lead...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Andrea Arnold, Emma Thomas Join BFI London Film Festival Jury

Andrea Arnold, Emma Thomas Join BFI London Film Festival Jury
Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold will head up the official competition jury at this year’s 61st BFI London Film Festival. Emma Thomas, producer of “Dunkirk” and the Oscar-nominated “Inception,” will also serve on the jury.

The festival’s Best Film Award recognizes inspiring, inventive and distinctive filmmaking, with the jury selecting the winner from a short-list of 12 titles. Last year’s winner was Kelly Reichardt’s “Certain Women.”

Joining Arnold (pictured) and Thomas on the official competition jury are actors Eric Bana and Lily Cole; British-Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari; programmer Ashley Clark; and Alexei Popogrebsky, head of directing at Moscow Film School.

This year’s official competition lineup comprises Robin Campillo’s “120 Beats Per Minute”; Vivian Qu’s “Angels Wear White”; Majid Majidi’s “Beyond the Clouds”; Nora Twomey’s “The Breadwinner”; Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’s “Good Manners”; Xavier Beauvois’ “The Guardians”; Andrew Haigh’s “Lean On Pete”; Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless”; Azazel Jacobs’ “The
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Scott Haze on Playing Real-Life Characters in ‘Thank You for Your Service,’ ‘Only the Brave’

Scott Haze on Playing Real-Life Characters in ‘Thank You for Your Service,’ ‘Only the Brave’
Scott Haze goes all in when he prepares for a role. For his breakout, 2013’s James Franco-directed “Child of God,” in which he played a homeless man, he shed 45 pounds and slept in caves. For “Thank You for Your Service,” which opens Oct. 27, he confined himself to a wheelchair for weeks to portray real-life disabled veteran Michael Emory. In “Only the Brave,” debuting Oct. 20, Haze plays another fact-based character, Arizona firefighter Clayton Whitted, part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He also directed the documentary “Mully,” about Kenyan doctor Charles Mulli, who runs a child rescue organization in Africa. The doc is set to hit theaters Oct. 3.

How did you prepare for “Thank You for Your Service”?

I quit walking for a month and a half, to get inside the mind of Emory. I fly out to San Antonio to meet him and stay with him. We go to Fort Sam Houston, and he says,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Andrea Arnold to Preside Over Les Arcs European Film Festival Jury

Andrea Arnold to Preside Over Les Arcs European Film Festival Jury
Andrea Arnold, the critically acclaimed British director of “American Honey,” is set to preside over the jury of the 9th Les Arcs European Film Festival.

The festival, which takes place in the French Alps, has been compared to Sundance for its showcase of European independent cinema and South by Southwest for its mix of films and live music programming. Frederic Boyer, who is the artistic director of Tribeca Film Festival, is also in charge of the Les Arcs festival’s feature film lineup.

Arnold’s most recent film, “American Honey,” a drama with Sasha Lane and Shia Labeouf, won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year. The helmer had won Cannes’ jury prize twice before, with her feature debut, “Red Road,” and her second film, “Fish Tank.” Both films also won BAFTA awards. Her third film, “Wuthering Heights,” competed at Venice in 2011.

Arnold also received an Academy Award for best live-action short with “Wasp” in 2005.

The other
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Watch: Exclusive Clip from ‘Dayveon’ Introduces Gang Life in Arkansas

Throughout cinema’s history, gangster life has often been depicted in glamorous fashion with an endless access to drugs, guns, women, sports cars, and mansions. Even if these lives are short-lived, filmmakers have long venerated their excess, and one glance at popular culture confirms audiences have reciprocated the fascination. For the characters of Dayveon, however, this way of life is grounded in economic necessity. With the ensemble of mostly non-actors never less than utterly convincing, Amman Abbasi’s debut drama is captivating in its immediacy. Ahead of a release this week, we’re pleased to debut an exclusive clip thanks to FilmRise.

“Utilizing a 4:3 ratio, cinematographer Dustin Lane takes a page from the Robbie Ryan handbook with his symmetrical framing and vibrant color palette reminiscent of the films of Andrea Arnold, finding beauty in both the Arkansas skyline and the black bodies that command the frame,” I said in my review.
See full article at The Film Stage »

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Joan Chemla — “If You Saw His Heart”

“If You Saw His Heart”

Joan Chemla is a director who decided to dedicate herself to filmmaking after an initial stint in law. She has helmed three short films: “Mauvaise Route,” “Dr Nazi,” and “The Man with the Golden Brain.” “If You Saw His Heart,” starring Gael García Bernal and Marine Vacth, is her first feature film. It was workshopped at Tiff’s Talent Lab several years ago and will compete in the Platform Section.

“If You Saw His Heart” will premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Jc: “Lonely people in a troubled word.” That’s the Tiff’s description, not mine. But I think it captures it nicely.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Jc: Three things: Guillermo Rosales’ book “Boarding Home,” which is at the same time tragic, absurd, romantic, lyrical, and shot through with black humor. The certitude that Gael García Bernal [who plays Daniel] was my hero. And lastly, Marine Vacth, with whom I’d worked four years ago on one of my short films, “The Man with the Golden Brain.”

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Jc: That this film is like no other.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Jc: To make a film that was radical, uncompromising, and on a par with my ambitions. To hold fast and to go the distance!

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Jc: It’s a French film. And in France, films are subsidized by public and private funding. With regard to my film in particular, it was produced in the main thanks to the support of Canal+, the Cnc [Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée], the Paca Region [Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur], and private funding.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Toronto International Film Festival?

Jc: International recognition. Which means a lot to me, given that my cinematographic influences have tended to be more American, and Asian. And also, three years ago, I was fortunate to take part in the Toronto Talent Lab. So it’s part of an ongoing story with Toronto.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Jc: “Joan, have trust!”

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Jc: Hmmm. By way of an answer, I’d say that the word “female” is superfluous in your question.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Jc: Unfortunately, Stanley Kubrick is not a woman. So I’d say Chantal Akerman. Her filmmaking is so sensitive, so radical. Hers is a powerful universe. I also like the films of Andrea Arnold.

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Jc: First off, I feel that this is an issue that concerns most professions that have to do with leadership, with power.

Secondly, my answer, which may seem a little harsh, would be as follows: Sure, a woman often has to do two, three, four, or even five times more — and so on — to prove that she is as competent as a man. But one must never indulge in self-victimization.

I believe in work. Although, undeniably, certain things have to change with regard to the place granted to women in the movie world and elsewhere, such change has to come from men, but also from women.

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Joan Chemla — “If You Saw His Heart” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Limor Shmila — “Montana”

Montana

Limor Shmila is an Israeli writer and director, who is also known for her work as a casting director. For the last 10 years she has been one of the leading casting directors in Israel, working on films such as “Big Bad Wolves,” “Yona,” and “Sand Storm,” for which she received the Israel Film Academy’s prize for best casting in 2016. Having directed the short films “Shabbat Shalom” and “Crime Car” during her studies, she is making her feature film debut with “Montana.”

Montana” will premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Ls: In “Montana,” main character Efi comes back to Acre, her hometown, after a 15-year absence. Upon her return she meets Maya, a nine-year-old girl who lives in Efi’s childhood home.

During Efi’s stay in town she realizes that she and Maya have a lot in common. Efi’s burgeoning love affair with Maya’s mother will help her settle a few old scores with those who drove her so far away, consequently saving Maya — and herself.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Ls: My grandfather passed away four years ago — he drowned at sea. My grandfather was very strong man, unbreakable, and then one day he just drowned. The thought that he might have chosen to end his own life wouldn’t let go of me. Despite my family’s refusal to accept this theory, it was clear to me that this is what had happened.

I also never got the chance to come out to him and tell him the truth about myself — and I realized I simply had to tell a love story between two women specifically in his hometown, where a love story between two women isn’t very common. This film is dedicated to him.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Ls: Efi is not a victim. She doesn’t live in the past, but instead faces the present head on, confronting others. By doing so puts the mirror up to them, showing them how they live.

I would like men and women leaving the theater to ask if they truly “ see” their children in general and their daughters in particular. When Efi confronts Karen with what her daughter is going through, she in fact points the mirror at us as a society, alerts us to the bonds of silence, and in doing so forces us into action.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Ls: The biggest challenge in making this film was shooting it in my actual childhood home: to go back to the memories, the sensations, the fragrances of the past, and to tell this specific story there in that place where it all began. That was the biggest challenge.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Ls: We made the film with a small, private investment. We decided not to wait for the film funds and to set out to tell the story. I knew it was my time to tell it and that if I were to wait any longer it wouldn’t come out the way that it did, and for that I am so very grateful.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Toronto International Film Festival?

Ls: It’s a huge honor. This festival is so important to me, I would love for “Montana” to touch as many people as possible and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most important festival for widespread distribution, beyond the fact that this is a dream come true.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Ls: The best advice I received during filming was from Chilik Michali, my producer, who told me to be faithful to my story and to the truth that emanates from it, and not to be afraid to use my own voice because at the end of the day it’s my unique, distinct voice.

The worst advice I received was to wait for the film funds and not to shoot the movie on a low budget.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Ls: The best advice I can give other female directors everywhere is to go the distance with the message we want to send. There are so many fears in telling a small, personal story, and the more devoted we are to ourselves and to our truth, the more we will be able to inspire and touch people’s hearts.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Ls: My all-time favorite director is Andrea Arnold. Her films illustrate femininity and strength in such fine lines, and they do so specifically from a weak place. It is from this weak place that we can — and should — grow stronger and there’s no director who depicts that better than her. I leave her films with an inexplicable sense of confidence that I have myself to rely on and that’s the most important thing.

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Ls: There’s no doubt in mind that the best stories ever told and yet to be told in cinema have come and will come from women, so in fact, there’s no one more optimistic than me that things will turn around. And I’m glad to say that we can see change with each passing year.

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Limor Shmila — “Montana” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Zaida Bergroth — “Miami”

Miami

Zaida Bergroth is a Finnish film director whose works has been screened at several prominent festivals, including Tiff, and have received awards at Pusan International Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival. Her previous feature films include “The Good Son” and “The Last Cowboy Standing.” Bergroth has also helmed several shorts like “Kunnanjohtaja” and “Heavy Metal.”

Miami” will premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Zb: “Miami” is a drama about two sisters finding each other again after many years. The older one is an irresponsible but magnetic show dancer, the younger one is a shy small-town girl. The film turns into a road movie and even a crime story, but the main focus is in the complex bond between the sisters.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Zb: A few years ago there were some scandals in Finland involving show dancers and public figures. The way these women were treated in the press and social media caught my attention; they were immediately ridiculed and looked down upon. The hate they were subjected to was shocking.

At the same time, there was something fascinating and somehow powerful in their shameless attention-seeking. This all gelled into the character of Angela.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Zb: Most of all, I want them to feel they have connected with the characters. Hopefully they’ve been immersed in a world and in characters who at the outset might seem outlandish and foreign, but by the end seem quite understandable.

The drama of how to handle a lovable but impossible family member has become more important than the exotic world surrounding it, and hopefully the central questions about responsibility and loyalty will linger in the mind of the spectator.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Zb: How to make a film about exotic dancers without succumbing to a male gaze — the culturally standard ways of looking at a female body — but at the same time without desexualizing the women and taking away their power. I hope we succeeded.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Zb: It was funded the normal Finnish way, meaning that the financing came from the national film fund and a public TV channel. It was a long process, all in all six or seven years, and the script went through different phases. But when we finally got the green light, everything went quite smoothly. The schedule was tight, but I had a great crew and really dedicated actors, and even the weather gave us some real gifts, such as a dramaturgically perfect snow storm near the end of the film.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Toronto International Film Festival?

Zb: It’s a wonderful recognition, of course. I was in Toronto with my last film, “The Good Son,” and the fact that we got such a good start for the film gave it a very good festival career. I hope we’ll do even better this time with “Miami” and I’m especially excited to have the main actors Krista Kosonen and Sonja Kuittinen accompanying me.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Zb: The best: With my first feature, in the editing room I was worried about images fitting properly together. My editor, who was really experienced, told me that they will fit if we just put them next to each other. The point was that one should focus on the essential and not create problems, not try to follow some preconceptions which have nothing to do with the task at hand.

The worst: Walk fast and talk quickly and unclear, so that everybody around you will be alert and on the edge.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Zb: The same as I would to a male colleague: love your eccentricities and “weaknesses.” They are what make you who you are and are a source of power. There’s no need to try to blend in.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Zb: There are so many: the works of Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, Lucrecia Martel, Sofia Coppola… They all have their individual, courageous voices. Just thinking of that gives one confidence in a moment of doubt.

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Zb: I can only speak of Finland, where we’ve had the same discussions. The situation in Finland and the Nordic countries in general is surely better than in most other places, though there is still some way to go.

There was just a debate about the fact that the screenwriting grants are already divided quite equally in Finland, but when it comes to the scripts actually getting into production, there is still a clear difference between male and female directors. But I am optimistic that this problem will slowly fade away with the next generation: We have so many recognized female directors, including Selma Vilhunen, who was in Toronto last year with her film “Little Wing.”

I expect that the commissioning editors will be more alert to the existing imbalances in the future. We have a community of female filmmakers in Finland who keep in touch and support each other, and we keep these things in discussion.

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Zaida Bergroth — “Miami” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Valerie Faris — “Battle of the Sexes”

Battle of the Sexes”: Fox Searchlight

Valerie Faris and her husband, Jonathan Dayton, have co-directed music videos for R.E.M., The Smashing Pumpkins, Janet Jackson, Oasis, and many others in the 1990s and 2000s. Their previous film credits include “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Ruby Sparks.”

Battle of the Sexes” will premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10. Dayton co-directed the film.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Vf: The film is an intimate portrayal of the private lives of Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs leading up to the Battle of the Sexes match.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Vf: I was particularly interested in the story of Billie Jean beginning a kind of personal transformation by becoming a leader in the fight for equal pay for women in tennis while having her first affair with a woman.

Billie Jean’s courage to put so much on the line to make change both in her professional and personal life remains very inspiring to me.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Vf: I hope they will go out and have a stimulating conversation about the thoughts and feelings the film raised for them, how it relates to their own lives, and — maybe in the bigger picture — what has changed in the last 44 years and what has not.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Vf: I think we all felt pressure to do justice to these larger than life characters. We worked to keep each character dimensional and the film complex, never reducing anyone or any subject to a cliché or a binary argument.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Vf: Fox Searchlight and Danny Boyle and Christian Colson brought the film to us. I think they liked the idea of a husband and wife team directing a film titled “Battle of the Sexes.” This is our third film with Fox Searchlight.

By normal Hollywood standards this is a low-budget production, but it’s our biggest budget yet and big by Searchlight standards as well. We were fortunate to put together an amazing cast that made greenlighting the movie very easy.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Toronto International Film Festival?

Vf: It’s a real thrill to screen the film alongside so many other great films. It’s the ideal way to release a film: With a festival to usher it into the world, it gets the conversation going about the film in a very organic way.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Vf: Never go to bed angry at your husband/partner.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Vf: Probably what I would tell all filmmakers — and myself for that matter — is to do what you are uniquely suited to do, don’t judge yourself, and put a lot of love and hard work into what you’re doing.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Vf: This is the hardest question. There are so many I love. Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road” and “Fish Tank” are two of my favorites. I love her style of storytelling. There’s so much drama but it never feels forced or contrived. I’m always right with the characters following them through the surprising turns of the story.

I’m also a big fan of Robbie Ryan’s cinematography. He worked on both of those films.

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Vf: With so many venues to present films now, there should be more opportunities as well. I think it’s our turn. The public is ready for some new blood and new stories.

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Tiff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Valerie Faris — “Battle of the Sexes” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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