In advance of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Indiewire sent out a questionnaire to the filmmakers taking their work to Austin. Below you’ll find some of the inspirations for the competing films, both narrative and documentary.
Here are the filmmakers’ responses:
Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti (“A Woman Like Me”): We were
inspired by a wide range of movies: “All That Jazz,” Agnes Varda’s
“The Beaches of Agnes,” “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm,” “Day
For Night,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Blue Vinyl,”
“Reds,” Abbas Kiarostami’s “Close-Up….”
Alison Bagnall (“Funny Bunny”): I don’t
know if certain films inspire me anymore, though Jerry Schatzberg’s “Scarecrow” is always an inspiration. Certain directors inspire me. The usual European
suspects; Polanski, Pasolini, Fassbinder-but now it’s contemporaries like
Dustin Defa, Caleb Johnson, Amy Seimetz, the Safdies. I like directors who just
speak right to me through the film and I feel like their soul is in the room
next to me. Melville is like that with Moby Dick. Yes, there’s the book and all
the words, but most of all, there’s just him. I’m reading his words and I just
want to grab him by the shoulders or go drink too many beers or stay up all
night and hear what he says about grass or stars. He’s long dead but he’s right
there. The AC on Pasolini’s early films used to have to stand by like a
basketball player..ready to catch the camera because Pasolini would pick it up
in a passion, film a shot himself, then forget it was a breakable piece of
expensive equipment and throw it down. So that AC had to be there to catch it
before he threw it. Pasolini was a poet. Those directors above – and others –
are poets. I used to think it was a putdown to say a film was poetic. I can’t
remember why I thought that. I don’t think that anymore.
Lewis Bennet (“The Sandwich Nazi”): Here are a
couple: “My Winnipeg,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
Mind,” “Her,” “The Comedy,” and films by Sacha Baron
Cohen, Richard Linklater, Alexander Payne, and Louis Theroux. And lots of
television: “Tim & Eric,” “Girls,” “The Daily Show
with Jon Stewart,” “Louie,” and “Nathan for You.”
Timothy Wheeler (“Poached”): Many films
from a variety of genres inspired me in the making of “Poached.”
First, I am huge fan of The Coen brothers and Alexander Payne and how these
filmmakers broach obsessed characters with darkly comic tones. I was actually
meditating one day when I connected one of the songs from Alexander Payne’s
“Nebraska” to one of the scenes in “Poached.” This led me to composer
Mark Orton who created the stunning score for both “Nebraska” and
“Poached.” I am also a big fan of documentaries that take you on a
cinematic journey as a narrative film would. “The Cove” is an
excellent example of a nature film that is so compelling you forget you are
being educated about an important issue.
Trey Shults (“Kirsha”): So many.
For this particular film, I would say: “A Woman Under the Influence,”
“Festen,” “Raging Bull,” “Punch-Drunk Love,”
“There Will Be Blood,” “Pusher 3: I’m the Angel of Death,”
“The Shining,” and many more I can’t think of.
Benjamin Dickinson (“Creative Control”): I was basically trying to make an Antonioni movie, but with some
Hannah Fidell (“6 Years”): My
starting point was the classic relationship-gone-bad film “Days of Wine
and Roses.” But I also wanted to give “6 Years” a
documentary feel, so Andrew Droz Palermo (cinematographer) and I watched some
Dardenne films. Those guys are master storytellers and their movies have a
fluidity to them that I really wanted to emulate. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this
because we went in the complete opposite direction, but I initially told Andrew
that I wanted “6 Years” to look like “Risky Business.” I
think I had just watched it for the first time and was struck by how white the
palate was…and I really wanted “6 Years” to be a physically bright
film even though the subject matter gets pretty dark. I wanted it to look like
the opposite of “A Teacher.”
Steven Piet (“Uncle John”): So many!
Honestly, every time I go to watch a movie in a theatre, good or bad, I’m
reminded why I want to do this for a living.
Andrew Berends (“Madina’s Dream”): A big
influence for me while making “Madina’s Dream” was “Beasts of
the Southern Wild” — the magic of the score and the spirit of the girl. I
thought about it a lot, and it’s part of what ignited my desire to focus on
young girls in the context of this conflict.
Alex Winter (“Deep Web”): Too many! For
this film specifically I was drawn to the simple, humanist work of Frederick
Wiseman, Barbara Kopple, The Maysles brothers and Laura Poitras on the doc
side. And Sidney Lumet, Costa-Gavras and Olivier Assayas on the narrative.
Poitras’s “Citizen Four” and Assayas’s “Carlos” are two of
the strongest and most perfect political dramas I’ve ever seen. Certainly the
best of the century so far in my book.
Michael Showalter (“Hello, My Name Is Doris”): My
co-writer Laura Terruso and I watched and talked about so many different films
as we wrote the script. “Being There,” “Grey Gardens,”
“Pretty In Pink” are three that really stand out. All for different
reasons. We definitely realized that even though Doris is in her sixties, like a
John Hughes movie, our film was very much an adolescent coming-of-age story.
Kevin Pang and Mark Helenowski (“For Grace”): “Jiro
Dreams of Sushi,” obviously, and we’re lucky enough to have one of its
producers, Kevin Iwashina, as our sales rep. The documentaries we love all tend
to have narrative structure: There’s an arc of conflict and resolution, usually
with a flawed character at its center. “Anvil!” was a damn fine piece
of filmmaking in that sense, as was Ondi Timoner’s “We Live in Public.” And of
course, a shout out to our hometown heroes, Kartemquin Films, whose staff was
immeasurably helpful during the making of our documentary.
Read all of the SXSW Meet the Filmmakers profiles here.