Unimaginable, but with fall — and the onset of Awards Season — edging closer, it’s a good time to look back at this year’s fresh faces in independent film that we’ve featured in our Futures column in 2011.
Up-and-comers include multithreats Juno Temple of “Little Birds” and “Kaboom,” Brit Marling of “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice” and the two child stars of Palme d’Or-winner “The Tree of Life.”
Also among indieWIRE‘s 25 to Watch this season: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, the 24-year-old freelance Chicago film critic and college dropout who was selected to co-host “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies;” winner of Sundance’s World Cinema Directing Award in the dramatic category, Paddy Considine’s “Tyrannosaur;” “Submarine”‘s director Richard Ayoade and star Craig Roberts; and director Mike Cahill of “Another Earth,” recipient of a Special Jury Prize at Sundance.
Who have we missed? Who would you like to see profiled? Tell us in the comments.
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Below are 25 of 2011’s FUTURES, sorted alphabetically:
British actor Olly Alexander probably had a start other would-be actors dream of. A friend hooked him up with people who had connections and off he was to auditions, landing himself a part in a television show one summer in between terms at school. Then, he met none other than writer-director Gaspar Noé (“Irreversible”) who offered him a part in “Enter the Void.” The temptation was too great, so college be damned and Alexander was off to Tokyo with Noé despite pressure to stay on. The experience changed his life.
While Ayoade has made quite an impression on British television (and any American that began watching his recent hit series “The IT Crowd” after Netflix recommended it based on an interest in “The Office”) and the music video world (directing videos for The Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more), he has thus far only made it onto American screens as a director of NBC’s “Community.” “Submarine,” which is executively produced by Ben Stiller and is being distributed by The Weinstein Company, marks his feature-length directorial debut (click here to read our interview with the film’s lead actor, Craig Roberts). The film quickly garnered Ayoade comparisons with Wes Anderson, which he very respectfully acknowledges.
“The Arbor” is a remarkable new entry into Britain’s tradition of social realism. It portrays the life of the late Andrea Dunbar, a troubled playwright who wrote about her experiences in working-class Northern England. Barnard took hundreds of hours of tape recordings with Dunbar’s family and friends and hired actors to lip-sync them. The result is a stunning achievement that pushes the boundaries of form to explore the cyclical nature of addiction and self-destruction.
During iW’s interview with Cahill last month, he commented on the high-concept premise of the film: “I think we were wrestling with the idea of the loneliness of life. You may have great close friends, a great lover or a great family but there are certain things that you have just got to deal with yourself. There’s this inner monologue inside your head. We were both being very self reflexive about life, considering where we were at the time. It spawned from that. There is a relationship that you have with yourself that’s a very private relationship. What if that were externalized?”
“I was just fed up with low-budget British film – getting a hand-held camera, swinging it around, improvising and chancing things a little bit. That whole technique got bastardized to death. I’m sick of seeing it. I wanted to make a movie. Actually, if there was any one model, it was Clint Eastwood. What I love about Eastwood is the simplicity of his films. Simplicity is a gift, I think. It’s not easy to do. People think they have to overcompensate, but it’s bold and brave to be still. I wanted that for my film,” said Considine.
He plays the lead in Andrew Haigh‘s astonishing feature “Weekend.” The gay romantic drama was very much below the radar when it debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in March, but quickly broke out as one of the event’s major discoveries.
Just 9 and 10 years old at the time of filming and never having acted on screen before, Eppler and Sheridan deliver disarmingly adult performances that are as raw and compelling as their older (and more famous) costars.
“When I was coming up with the idea, I wanted to tell the relationship drama honestly and have it about gay people. To try to tell a story that had wider resonance than that. That’s the thing about a lot of gay films, they’re just about being gay—nightclubs, coming out when you were a kid. I wanted to focus the everyday aspects of being gay. If I was straight, I would’ve told it about a woman. It’s after you make the film that the gay word gets used constantly,” said Haigh in iW’s interview with him.
Anyone who lands a leading role in a film by a veteran filmmaker, such as Gus Van Sant, is bound to garner attention. Certainly his pedigree helped him in getting his foot in the door, but Henry Hopper still had to deliver the goods and more than holds his own “Restless.”
While Linklater is a familiar face on the small screen, he broke out this past weekend on the big screen opposite Miranda July in her second feature “The Future.” In the whimsical romantic dramedy, Linklater plays Jason, one half of a couple whose decision to adopt a stray cat backfires when it forces them to face what the future really holds.
After making over a dozen experimental shorts, Losier made her feature film debut with the doc “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye.” The film is an intensely affecting portrait of the relationship between Genesis P-Orridge, one of the most influential figures in underground industrial music, and his collaborator and muse, the late Lady Jaye. The film centers around the sexual transformations the pair underwent for their ‘Pandrogyne’ project (in which they underwent surgeries to more closely resemble each other).
“The only reason I wanted to act is because it’s the hardest thing in the world for me to do. I can’t think of anything harder. I could probably be a heart surgeon easier than I could be an actor. Acting, what it demands of you—it requires this kind of monastic discipline where you just take on a story and you invest yourself in that world until that reality becomes more vividly imagined than the one you’re living in,” said Marling.
Dee Rees’ feature directorial debut “Pariah,” starring relative newcomer Adepero Oduye, earned a standing ovation in its opening-night premiere. A coming-of-age drama that centers on Alike (Oduye), a 17-year-old girl coming to terms with her sexuality, “Pariah” is the type of film that requires a inspired lead performance to succeed. It has it in Oduye.
Her debut feature, the hilarious black-and-white sci-fi romantic comedy “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same,” charmed the pants off critics and audiences at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it world premiered.
A beguiling amalgamation of documentary and fictional narratives, Matthew Porterfield’s second feature “Putty Hill” has been making waves on the film festival circuit since debuting at the Berlin International Film Festival last year.
Making his feature film debut in “Submarine,” Roberts gives what could certainly be a star-making performance as Oliver Tate, a boy on a mission to save his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) from the dissolution of their marriage and to lose his virginity before he turns 16.
The gripping tale of five months in the life of a pedophile (Michael Fuith) and the young child he keeps in his basement, “Michael” took Cannes audiences by surprise with its provocative story, which the festival did not reveal in advance. While critics were mixed, there’s no doubt that Schleinzer has established himself.
The Scott filmmaking clan continues to grow with the release of Jordan Scott’s first feature film, the boarding school drama “Cracks.” As the daughter of British directing veteran Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Blade Runner”), sister to Jake Scott (director of “Welcome to the Rileys”) and niece to blockbuster auteur Tony Scott (“Unstoppable”), it should come as no surprise that Scott has decided to follow suit and pursue what her family knows best.
“I love performing. I was a really timid child. I loved the idea of performing, but I was terrified of it. Obviously that’s changed a lot. I thought for a long time I was going to be an orthopedic surgeon. It wasn’t my first thing, but I had always loved it. I started out doing experimental performances & films. Only in the past five years have I begun to focus on narrative,” said Seimetz in her interview with iW.
Alex Shaffer never seriously considered acting. A New Jersey high school wrestling phenom, he was more focused on securing wins on his way to the state tournament when he saw an ad in the paper for a casting call. He decided to give it a shot, despite the fact that his only previous acting experience was a small part in a sixth-grade school play. Today, you can find Alex sitting alongside Paul Giamatti on the poster for Tom McCarthy’s new film, “Win Win.”
Sigman commented, “What attracted me was the story but mostly, I fell in love with the character. She’s so fragile and at the same time so strong. I think she realizes these [traits] over the course of events. I didn’t think she knew how strong she was and that’s what I liked. I also liked that she’s so innocent about a lot of things and that was in part what was so great about her. It was a challenge with the amount of emotion and action required with Laura Guerrero.”
“I have this vivid memory of being four years old. Our family had this big striped couch and I was laying on it. My dad showed me Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bete.” It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. There’s this one moment where the Beast carries Belle through this room and her clothes just change. I remember thinking, ‘That’s magic – I want to be in movies,'” said Temple.
The meteoric rise of Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, the 24-year-old freelance Chicago film critic and college dropout who was selected this month to co-host “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies” alongside AP critic Christy Lemire, has been covered as if it were the Horatio Alger story of contemporary film criticism. Vishnevetsky says his new role is just a lucky break.
Son of Harry Winkler (yep, Fonzie in “Happy Days”), Max is a graduate of the USC film school. He made his feature-directing and writing debut with the charming coming-of-age romantic comedy “Ceremony,” starring Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano.
With Azazel Jacob’s “Terri,” newcomer Jacob Wysocki has made his entrance. In every single scene of the film, critics and audiences at the Sundance Film Festival were clearly won over by Wysocki’s portrayal of the titular character, an overweight teenager who struggles at home (his primary caregiver is a pill-popping uncle) and at school (kids taunt him with names like “double d”).