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From ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘The Virgin Suicides’: Here Are the Films that Inspired the 2015 AFI FEST Filmmakers

From 'Blue Velvet' to 'The Virgin Suicides': Here Are the Films that Inspired the 2015 AFI FEST Filmmakers

In advance of the 2015 AFI FEST, Indiewire sent out a questionnaire to filmmakers with films in competition asking them a variety of questions about their projects. We also asked them which films inspired them. It’s no surprise to see films by Albert Hitchcock, Antonioni Fellini, Werner Herzog, David Lynch and Roman Polanski make the list, but there were some surprising picks, including “The Craft,” the 1996 teen horror film starring Neve Campbell, as well as more obscure films such as Jon Alpert’s “Life of Crime 2,” which aired on HBO back in 1998. See a selection of responses below:

READ MORE: AFI FEST 2015 Announces New Auteurs and American Independents Lineups, Including ‘James White’ and ‘Krisha’

“Hitchcock. All of it. John Carpenter, obviously, like most people who work in genre. But I’d point specifically to ‘Escape from Precinct 13,’ ‘Prince of Darkness’ and ‘In the Mouth of Madness.’ ‘Heavenly Creatures,’ ‘The Virgin Suicides,’ ‘The Craft,’ ‘Ginger Snaps’…I really want to see more films about female relationships, but within the context of the genre space. ‘Ladies and Gentleman the Fabulous Stains,’ ‘Legend of Billie Jean’ and’ We Are the Best!’ are constantly on my mind. But I could also watch ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and ‘Seven Samurai’ every day and never grow tired of them. Same with ‘Blowout’ and ‘Body Double.’ I’m consistently inspired by the films my friends are making. That’s probably what I find most inspiring – kicking around film ideas with other filmmakers, finding out what they’re drawn to and why, talking about or seeing what they’re working on.” – Roxanne Benjamin, “Southbound”

“The films that inspired me the most were Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times,’ Fellini’s ‘Amarcord, Ford’s ‘The Searchers,’ Truffaut’s ‘400 Blows,’ Leonardo Favio’s ‘Chronicle of a Boy Alone.’ – Pablo Trapero, “The Clan”

“Making ‘A War,’ I was very inspired by Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘The Hurt Locker,’ Paul Greengrass’ ‘United 93,’ Kubrick’s ‘Path of Glory’ and ‘Restrepo’ by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington.” – Tobias Lindholm, “A War”

‘The Producers,’ 1968, Mel Brooks. There is a reason my dad is called a genius. This is a brilliant, touching, gorgeous little movie. A must-see for all cinema buffs!” – Nicholas Brooks, “Sam”
“One of the earliest films to inspire me was the non-verbal film, ‘Baraka.’ The imagery, metaphors and music captivated me when it was released. I also love the storytelling and pacing in ‘Argo,’ the magic of ‘E.T.,’ the adventure in ‘Indiana Jones’ and the drama of ‘The Godfather.’ The grit of Alejandro Iñarritu’s ‘Amores Perros’ and the brashness of Herzog’s ‘Fitzcarraldo’ are inspiring, and I draw a lot from Eisenstein’s theories of montage and collision as well. One of my favorite films, however, is a Kurdish film called ‘A Time for Drunken Horses.'” – Brad Algood and Graham Townsley, “Landfill Harmonic”

“All of John Cassavetes. The ’70s films of Sidney Lumet. ‘La Commune,’ by Peter Watkins. More recently, ‘The Master’ by Paul Thomas Anderson and ‘Nebraska’ by Alexander Payne.” – Benjamin Naishtat, “El Movimiento”

“A few films that have inspired me are Claire Denis’ ‘Beau Travail’ and ‘White Material,’ The Dardennes Brothers’ ‘Rosetta’ and ‘Kid With A Bike,’ Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘L’Avventura,’ and Michael Haneke’s ‘Cache.'” – Logan Sandler, “Tracks”

“Even though ‘Pink Grapefruit’ is a film about relationships, I was most inspired by suspense and horror movies. The situation within the story is one that would be absolutely gut-wrenching to me, and so I utilized the grammar from these films to put the audience on edge too. ‘Stranger by the Lake’ and ‘With a Friend Like Harry’ are two that come to mind.” – Michael Mohan, “Pink Grapefruit”

“For this project, it was most definitely the docs of Jon Alpert. His stuff is criminally underseen. ‘Junkie Junior,’ ‘Life of Crime’ (Parts 1 and 2) and ‘High on Crack.'” – Nathan Silver, “Stinking Heaven”

“‘Blue Velvet’ by David Lynch, ‘Kitchen Stories’ and ‘Eggs’ by Bent Hammer, ‘Fargo’ by Coen Brothers and ‘Shadows in Paradise’ by Aki Kaurismaki.” – Grimur Hakonarson, “RAMS”

“My favorite film of all time is ‘Scarecrow’ from 1973, starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. Shot by Vilmos Szigmond and directed by Jerry Schatzberg, it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, but is less known in the U.S. I like it because it is both funny and crushingly poignant, and it is the loveliest story I’ve seen of how two people can rub off on each other profoundly by spanning time together. In a way, every film I’ve made is an homage to ‘Scarecrow,’ not intentionally, but they are. I also love ‘Last Tango in Paris,’ Polanski’s ‘The Tenant,’ Pasolini’s ‘Accattone,’ Fassbinder’s ‘Ali Fear Eats the Soul.’ But lately, I am most inspired by the new American independent directors; The Safdie Brothers, Dustin Guy Defa, Amy Seimetz, Caleb Johnson, Lawrence Levine, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck and Robert Machoian to name just a few. Those are the only films I really want to watch now. Oh, and I loved the Russian film ‘Leviathan.’ And ‘District 9,’ to name some bigger movies.” – Alison Bagnall, “Funny Bunny”

“God, there are so many great films. And great ones being made now. It’s a long, long list…I loved ‘Force Majeure,’ ‘Enemy’ and ‘Foxcatcher’ from last year. I was very young when I saw the classics and they made a big impression on me: ‘The Mirror,’ ‘A Man Escaped,’ ‘Battle of Algiers’; and avant-garde stuff like ‘Meshes,’ ‘Serene Velocity’ and ‘Wavelength.’ That’s a random list. I feel real gratitude to so many filmmakers.” – Jake Mahaffy, “Free in Deed”

READ MORE: Attention, First-Time Filmmakers: Here’s the Best Advice from the 2015 AFI Fest Filmmakers

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