Since launching the weekly FUTURES column back in April, indieWIRE has profiled a crop of up and comers in the independent film world worth getting to know. This Fall saw a fresh slate of new faces make the cut, running the gamut from a child actor (“Let Me In” star Kodi Smit McPhee) to an established director making a bid for the director’s chair (“Windfall” director Laura Israel).
Among indieWIRE‘s 15 to Watch this season: Rookie feature filmmaker Tanya Hamilton, whose debut “Night Catches Us” made a splash at Sundance and got a theatrical release this fall; Gotham Award-winning “Littlerock” director, who had yet to win the prize for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You back when the article was originally published; Brooklyn’s reRun theater, a cinema dedicated to independent film outfitted with reclaimed car seats and a full bar; and in a change of pace, Greenland who made it onto the filmmaking map after they made their first Oscar foreign film submission this year.
Below are this Fall’s FUTURES:
An established editor who has worked on numerous music videos including Duran Duran: Decade in 1989. Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume III and other work from Keith Richards, Patti Smith and Sonic Youth, spotlighting the dark side of wind energy was perhaps an unlikely motivator for Israel to take on the director role.
“I’ve always been interested in working with horror,” said Grau. “I’m really fond of horror films from the 1970’s. I’m not really interested in paranormal types of horror but in horror that we find in daily life, at least in Mexico. Right now we have this major war going on with the drug traffickers, and it’s not that uncommon currently in this situation for these guys to cut a person’s head off, substitute it for a pig’s head, and sit him out on the street with a sign on him. That sense of horror that permeates is something I wanted to explore.”
British photographer Andy Taylor Smith was at the SilverDocs fest this June for the world premiere of his first film, the short “This Chair is Not Me.” By the end of popular documentary event held annually in Silver Springs, Maryland, “Chair” won the Sterling Award for Best Short Film. Smith’s first foray into filmmaking was a natural progression, citing his work in photography projects, which he feels, often took on narrative elements. The film itself centers around a pivotal moment in the life of Alan Martin, a dancer with cerebral palsy who gives workshops and performances, played by newcomer Andre Mahjouri.
Although this marks Hamilton’s feature film debut, she has already gone on to win awards from the Berlin International Film Festival and New Line Cinema for her short film “The Killers” in 1997. That same year, she was the recipient of the Director’s Guild of America Award for Best Female Director. “Night Catches Us” is itself a product of the Sundance Screenwriter and Filmmaker Lab, where she acts as a Fellow.
Canadian actors who move South of the border to kick start their careers are a dime a dozen. Rachel McAdams, Mike Meyers, Michael J. Fox, Ryan Gosling, Sandra Oh – the list is endless. Newcomer, and fellow Canuck Richard de Klerk, who’s worked with Canadian director Carl Bessai twice in “Repeaters” and “Cole,” is following in their footsteps, while at the same time staking out an career as a producer, by serving as Vice President for his family production company Rampart Films.
Born in Japan, at the age of three Sakurai and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he went to Japanese school and was admittedly “super shy.” But when he started doing plays, he realized the power behind acting and performing. This led to roles in film (including the aforementioned “Dogma”), which in turn led to an interest in filmmaking.
“My mission is to create from scratch a portrait of Pakistan through a series of films,” said a warm and engaging Khan while in Abu Dhabi. “I want to be able to take a country that has no film presence in the world, and give it one.”
The improv resulted in a story of a Japanese brother (Rintaro Sawamoto) and sister (played by the remarkable Atsuko Okatsuka, who also co-wrote the script) who end up finding themselves in Littlerock when their car breaks down. After meeting locals (including a particularly eccentric loner played pitch-perfectly by newcomer Cory Zacharia), the sister is charmed into staying behind while her brother continues on.
“We started shooting [‘Gerrymandering’] on October 15, 2008, so we’re now at our two year anniversary,” said Reichert who left his job at Magnolia Pictures to take on the filmmaker role. “The great thing about documentaries is that it’s never what is expected. You may go to a state thinking you will be covering something and then it turns out to be something entirely different. The frustrating part is financing…”
The film was shot during the summer of 2008 in and around Greenland’s largest community, Nuuk (its title means “a resident of Nuuk”). It follows Malik, a 35-year old carpenter recently diagnosed with a terminal illness who joins his best friend on his last boat trip into the fjords near Nuuk. During this trip, the two friends rediscover their friendship and Malik is given an opportunity to come to terms with his imminent death.
“I started out in the theater,” Sylvia said when he sat down with indieWIRE in Toronto. “I did my undergrad work in the theater, and then I was a Broadway dancer for six years. What I realized very quickly when it sort of became my paid job was that what I actually loved was production.”
This past September marked Kodi Smit-McPhee’s second visit to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as an actor with a film to promote. He’s fourteen.
“Last Train Home” is shot with an observational verite style akin to Frederick Wiseman, though Fan was hard pressed when asked which documentary filmmakers have influenced him. He did cite, however, filmmaker Yung Chang whose film “Up the Yangtze” Fan worked on after a chance meeting during a program called “Made in China” at the Hot Docs festival.
An editor, producer and now trying her hand at directing, Adele Romanski has traveled the gamut behind the camera. She produced David Robert Mitchell‘s “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” as well as Katie Aselton’s directorial debut, “The Freebie,” which screened in the inaugural NEXT section at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it was acquired for domestic distribution by Phase 4 Films (and opening theatrically on Friday September 17th).
Across the river in Brooklyn, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – AKA DUMBO – lies the reRun theater, tucked behind the neighborhood’s restaurant reBar, a gastropub located on the ground floors of an office building. A number of great features make reRun unique, not the least of which is the bar nestled next to the audience.