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by Ziyad Saadi
April 22, 2014 9:15 AM
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'Die Hard,' '8 Mile' and 'Alice in Wonderland': Here Are the Films That Inspired This Year's Tribeca Filmmakers

"Sideways"
With the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in full swing, we sent out a questionnaire to filmmakers with films in competition in which they tell us all the significant details of how their films came to be created. Among the questions asked was the inspiration behind each of their films, leading to a wide variety of answers that range from documentaries ("Salesman," "War Room") to foreign films ("Breathless," "La Dolce Vita"), from big-budget studio blockbusters ("Jaws," "Die Hard") to micro-budget indies ("El Mariachi," "Halloween"), from stark high-brow dramas ("Network," "Mean Streets") to lovably goofy comedies ("Caddyshack," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"). Here are some of the most eclectic selections from the 2014 Tribeca filmmakers:

Onur Tukel ("Summer of Blood"): There are four movies that inspired "Summer of Blood." Robert Bierman's "Vampire's Kiss," Mary Harron's "American Psycho," Larry Fessenden's "Habit," and Rick Alverson's "The Comedy." For the record, my favorite horror comedy of all time is "American Werewolf in London." I loved watching horror films as a teenager in the 80s. In the 90s, during college, I discovered and loved the films of Woody Allen.

Garrett Bradley ("Below Dreams"): 1970s American Cinema is my jam. So many faces! Public spaces, personal stories...world world meets art. I'm inspired in some way by a lot of what I see...so I think it's better to speak on the filmmakers here: Michelangelo Antonioni, Cassavetes, John Shlesinger, William Greaves, Billy Woodberry, Sidney Lumet, Elia Kazan, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda.

Jody Lipes ("Ballet 422"): "The Charlie Rose Show." Allan King's "A Married Couple." All of Frederick Wiseman's work, the Maysles' films "Running Fence" and "Salesman," Barbara Kopple's "Harlan County U.S.A.," James Gray's "We Own The Night," "The Yards," and "Little Odessa." Just watched "Tootsie" again, really strong picture. Not many others can match Hoffman's run during this period..."Lenny," "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man," "Straight Time," "Agatha," "Kramer vs Kramer," "Death of a Salesman," "Ishtar," "Rain Man." That filmography is for all time. 

Christopher Denham ("Preservation"): I have a weak stomach. My wife is a doctor so she finds it funny that I actually pass out when I get my blood drawn. I physically can't stand gore on screen. I can't stand blood and guts. Not for any puritanical/moral high-ground reason. I just don't want to black out. Therefore, the movies I gravitate towards, the movies I want to make, are more about the power of suggestion. What you don't see is scarier than what you do. Categorization is always kind of arbitrary, but people have called "Preservation" a "psychological thriller". To me, psychological thriller basically means "a horror movie without the blood." John Carpenter called "Halloween" a jack in the box. You know it's coming. You just don't know when. We tried to do the same thing with "Preservation." How can we sustain the tension? How unbearable can it be? I heard this interview with Joyce Carol Oates. She said the power of storytelling is the power of dread...

David Lascher ("Sister"): Character driven films with a strong voice from a writer/director. Alexander Payne's "Sideways" and "The Descendants," Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Manhattan."

Tyler Measom ("An Honest Liar"): I have always been, and will continue to be inspired by my absolute favorite film, "Network" (1976). The dialogue, pacing and shot placement are well ahead of its time. The wonderful political documentary "War Room" (1993) made me not only a hopeful documentarian, but a Democrat. When making "An Honest Liar," we studied the art of non-fiction storytelling by re-watching such works as "Man on Wire," "Bill Cunningham New York," "The Imposter," "F is for Fake," and "Marjoe," among others.

Alastair Orr ("Indigenous"): I love the early films of established filmmakers. The films that have that raw, gritty feel about them where the directors' talent just shines through. There's no grips, no budgets, just balls. Films like "El Mariachi," "Following," "Eraser Head," and even now, films like "Monsters" and "The Raid."

Victor Levin ("5 to 7"): Among the strongest inspirations are "Manhattan," "Jules and Jim," "Il Postino," "Cinema Paradiso," "Swept Away (1974 version)," "Metropolitan," "Local Hero," "Network" and "Casablanca." Smart, funny, immensely moving stories. Filmmaking that doesn't call attention to itself but gives you beautiful images. Dialogue I've never forgotten.

Andrew Renzi ("Fishtail"): The documentaries of Frederick Wiseman and Albert Maysles were an inspiration for this documentary, as well as the visual styles of the narrative features, "Once Upon a Time in the West," "Jeremiah Johnson," and "Days of Heaven." More generally, I am inspired by the grand gesture hollywood character studies of the '80s and '90s like "Scent of a Woman" and "Rain Man," and I also really love colorful and flamboyant Italian films like "Divorce Italian Style," "The Leopard," "The Conformist," or "Blood and Black Lace."

Kevin Gordon ("True Son"): "Pour la Suite du Monde" always stick out in my mind. It's an early 1960s, verité film by Michel Brault and the National Film Board of Canada that was beautifully shot, had a filmmaker constructed premise, and was light years ahead of its time. Anyone who thinks we are completely re-inventing the documentary form today should revisit that film. Italian Neorealism should also be required viewing for doc filmmakers.

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