Gareth Huw Evans

[Be sure also to check out my review of the film as well as Jackson’s interview with the film’s co-composer Joseph Trapanese] Following an incredible reception at last fall’s Toronto Film Festival The Raid: Redemption has been picked up for distribution for Sony Pictures Classics, screened at Sundance, and already become a cult phenomenon before (read…)

Joseph Trapanese

While Joseph Trapanese may be best-known for his work arranging and orchestrating the  TRON: Legacy score written by Daft Punk, his prolific body of work includes various aspects of composing, arranging, and mixing music for numerous films, albums, web series, TV shows, concerts, recitals, plays, and sporting events. Trapanese recently collaborated with Mike Shinoda of (read…)

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

Belgium’s two-time Palme d’Or-winning brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are back with their latest film, The Kid with a Bike which opens in the US on March 16th. It tells the story of a boy who is abandoned by his father (Jeremie Renier), but offered a chance at staying out of an orphanage by a (read…)

Kaui Hart Hemmings

Alexander Payne’s Oscar-winning film The Descendants hits shelves Tuesday, March 13 on Blu-ray and DVD. The eponymous novel upon which the film is based was written with such a deft literary hand that it was easy to imagine it being turned into such a bittersweet and acclaimed film. It’s that same quiet brilliance felt throughout (read…)

Aaron Phillps and Lucy Walker filming The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Director of photography Aaron Phillips and director Lucy Walker filming The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom [Editor’s Note: While The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom did not ultimately win the Oscar for documentary short, it was clearly the class of the field. Jackson previously interviewed Ms. Walker for Waste Land which was my pick for (read…)

Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, directors of SOUND OF NOISE

Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, directors of SOUND OF NOISE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Nils Bergendal In 2001, Swedish filmmakers Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson made the short film Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers, which won over thirty awards at film festivals around the (read…)

Two Lane Blacktop

As Road to Nowhere continues to be released the world over on Blu-Ray and DVD, the legendary career of filmmaker Monte Hellman is being rediscovered by a new generation, and new audiences are finding the work of an artist being referred to as “Hollywood’s least known genius.” Some of Hellman’s most influential work includes the (read…)

Director Monte Hellman on the set of "Road to Nowhere"

Whatever lofty ideals you may have at the beginning of the process, by the end of it you’re just glad to come out of it alive. – Monte Hellman As I wrote in my piece reviewing the best films of 2011, when director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, The Shooting) returned to filmmaking after an absence (read…)


For the 26th year in a row, this Saturday, aka “Oscar Eve” will bring Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards, the afternoon picnic on the beach in Santa Monica that recognizes the best in independent film. This year’s ceremony, hosted by Seth Rogen, will air on the Independent Film Channel 10pm ET/PT. In anticipation, I recently (read…)

The Barber of Birmingham co-director Robin Fryday

To varying extents throughout the past several decades, the Oscar categories for Live Action, Animation, and Documentary Short have been little more than tie-breakers in Oscar pools and categories misunderstood and underappreciated by much of the telecast’s audience. In recent years, the nominated shorts have received growing theatrical distribution, an increased online presence, and screenings (read…)

Footnote writer/director Joseph Cedar

Footnote writer/director Joseph Cedar After being nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Beaufort in 2008, Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar has returned to the Oscar race with Footnote, Israel’s submission and a nominee for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Footnote is both a father/son tragedy and a comedy of (read…)

Terry George and Ciaran Hinds filming The Shore

Previously nominated for his screenplays to Jim Sheridan’s In the Name of the Father (1993) and his own Hotel Rwanda (2004), Terry George is no stranger to Oscar and this year his film The Shore is one of the five Oscar nominees for Live Action Short. It stars Ciaran Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, HBO’s Rome, Munich, The Debt) as a man who returns to his best friend and his former love in Northern Ireland after 25 years in America. I recently spoke to Mr. George over the phone about his disarmingly charming new film, the struggles his home country of Northern Ireland has overcome and the climate for making films in Hollywood today.

Linda Cardellini in Liza Johnson's "Return"

Linda Cardellini in Liza Johnson’s Return Liza Johnson’s feature directorial debut Return stars Linda Cardellini as a young wife and mother who struggles with civilian life after returning from war to her small Ohio town. Plenty of films have captured the horror of combat, but fewer deal with the ongoing aftermath experienced by the people (read…)

Chico & Rita

As this year’s Oscar nominees were being announced at dawn just a couple of short weeks ago, no category was shaken up as completely as that of Best Animated Feature. Presumptive nominees and studio behemoths including The Adventures of Tintin and Rio were passed over in favor of two foreign films, A Cat in Paris (read…)

Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley on the set of his film Kill List After touring the global festival circuit with his first feature Down Terrace, director/co-writer/co-editor Ben Wheatley returned last year with his sophomore effort Kill List which debuted at South By Southwest. Since then, the film has been simultaneously polarizing audiences and earning support from festivals including (read…)

Steve Martin, director David Franklin and Jack Black on the set of The Big Year

Steve Martin, director David Frankel and Jack Black on the set of The Big Year One of the biggest mistakes critics and audiences made last year was the complete dismissal of The Big Year. I include myself in that statement, as I saw it just recently. The lack of box office and mixed-at-best reviews were (read…)

Patrick Doyon's Sunday

[Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted after Sunday was short-listed but before it was nominated for the Oscar] The Oscar-nominated animated short Dimanche/Sunday is a timeless and whimsical look at a child living in a small Canadian town during a period of hardship and how the child’s imagination helps color the world around him. I (read…)

Ian Padron

Cuban filmmaker Ian Padron’s Habanastation was Cuba’s submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film this year. Although the film wasn not ultimately shortlisted by the Academy, Padron used the opportunity of being submitted to stage an independently-funded tour of the Los Angeles Film circuit, hosting screenings around town, including one hosted by Oscar-winner (read…)

Gerardo Naranjo on the set of his film Miss Bala

Director Gerardo Naranjo on the set of Miss Bala Today, Fox Searchlight International releases Miss Bala, a film that has created controversy throughout the global festival circuit since its Cannes Film Festival premiere last May. It’s the story of an impoverished young woman named Laura (played by Stephanie Sigman) who hopes to use a beauty (read…)

Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby's Wild Life

Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby’s Wild Life. Copyright 2011 National Film Board of Canada For decades, Best Animated Short had been one of the lesser known and underappreciated Oscar categories. That’s a great tragedy as the category always features (from America and around the world) beautifully written, drawn, and voice-acted films that are incredibly heartfelt, (read…)

While Addiction Incorporated sounds like a depressing chore of a movie-watching experience, it is in fact an incredible underdog story, and an inspirational tale of how one man can overcome personal obstacles to better public health in America. Charles Evans Jr.’s directorial debut traces the life’s work of Victor DeNoble, a former scientist for Philip (read…)

Andres Wood

Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra is considered the mother of Latin American folk music. She not only wrote and collected over three thousand songs, she was also a prolific author, poet, and sculptor. She became the first Latin American to have her work individually exhibited in the Louvre in 1964 during a showing of her (read…)

Anna Paquin on the set of Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret

Anna Paquin on the set of Margaret I recently had the chance to chat with True Blood star Anna Paquin about her terrific performance in Kenneth Longergan’s Margaret, one of my favorite films from last year which was only released after a tortuous 6-year battle over the film’s run time. Margaret only got a small, (read…)

Augusti Villaronga

Writer/Director Agusti Villaronga holds one of the 9 Goya Awards won by his film Black Bread Spanish writer/director Agusti Villaronga has spent twenty-five years as an acclaimed filmmaker throughout Europe and South America, winning nominations and awards at festivals as prestigious and diverse as Cannes, Berlin, and San Sebastian. In 2010, Villaronga won Goya Awards (read…)

David Weistman Copyright 2011 - Red Flag Releasing

David Weissman’s documentary We Were Here has already become of the year’s most celebrated documentaries, having been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and short-listed for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, among other accolades. Weissman became a well-known figure in the documentary world throughout the past decade as his first feature, The Cockettes, became (read…)

Volcano director Runar Runarsson flanked by his co-stars Theodor Juliusson and Margret Helga Johannsdottir at Cannes 2011

Volcano writer/director Runar Runarsson flanked by his co-stars Theodor Juliusson and Margret Helga Johannsdottir during the 64th Cannes Film Festival (May 13, 2011 – Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images Europe) Runar Runarsson, who was Oscar-nominated for his 2006 live action short The Last Farm, is back in the Oscar race as the director of Volcano, (read…)


Of all the short-listed films in this year’s race for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, Undefeated is easily the most entertaining, along with being a genuinely inspirational underdog story. Co-Directors/Editors/Directors of Photography Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s debut as a directing team is the story of a season with the Manassas High School football (read…)

Marshall Curry's "If a Tree Falls"

Documentarian Marshall Curry’s first film Street Fight, about a mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey, earned universal raves from critics and won awards all over the world, including an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2006. His follow-up, Racing Dreams, was released last year to the same critical response, and is being remade by (read…)

Kerry Bishe and Edward Burns in Newlyweds

[Editor’s Note: Edward Burns’ Newlyweds is available through VOD, on DVD and by digital download as of 12/26] Since entering the world of independent film in the mid-nineties with The Brothers McMullen and She’s the One, Edward Burns has become a prolific writer, director, producer, and actor. After his initial success a filmmaker, Burns landed (read…)


After achieving world-wide acclaim in 1989 for his Oscar-winning adaptation of Henry V, Kenneth Branagh has spent over twenty years delighting audiences and critics of stage and screen. Branagh has often followed in the footsteps of his hero Laurence Olivier, writing, directing, and acting in world-class adaptations of some of William Shakespeare’s most highly regarded (read…)

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