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Sure, there are a lot of great films playing at this year’s Festival. But what about the people who made those films? As far as we know, the Internet hasn’t invented robots that can make good movies…yet. Until that day comes, relish the opportunity to learn the behind-the-scenes stories about some of the most interesting filmmakers here. There's quite a bit to choose from, with 13 Director Vdeo Bios (and counting).
MOST INFORMATIVE ABOUT THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Leslie Cockburn (American Casino).
Cockburn tells a gripping story about the effects of the financial crisis, and reveals some startling figures regarding the dispersal of subprime mortgage loans to different ethnicities. Plus? Cockburn is the mother of 13 on House (actress Olivia Wilde). Good genes run in that family!
BEST DOC SET ON STATEN ISLAND: Joshua Zeman & Barbara Brancaccio (Cropsey).
Zeman and Brancaccio’s creepy doc gets laid out in larger terms here, as the filmmakers discuss their views upon the artform itself. Zeman notably says that he believes in making art as a means of making social change.
MOST ENTERTAINING, HORRIFYING SHOT OF A GUN POINTING AT YOU: Julien Nitzberg (The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia).
Garbage-strewn backyard? Check. Rifle-as-prop? Check. Extremely high level of entertainment? Triple-check.
MOST STRIKING: Gabriel Noble (P-Star Rising).
A nine-year-old female rapper strutting her stuff on the stage? Can’t be real, can it? You better believe it. We certainly do, after watching this gripping behind-the-scenes look at the making of this unique documentary.
BEST PITCH FOR WHY MOVIES MATTER: Alex Jablonski (Blue Boy). Jablonski’s thoughts on why cinema is important, and can change your life, are clearly heartfelt and quite touching. Plus, his living room has a lot of books (his short is adapted from a Kevin Canty short story). He's a looker, too; and according to some ladies in this office, totally crush-worthy.
MOST INTERESTING BACKGROUND: Tony Wei (3 Wheels). Wei, who grew up shuttling between Taipei and New Jersey, talks about his fascinating upbringing here. Wei discusses how his diversity of citizenship (he is also a citizen of the Dominican Republic) informs his short playing in this year’s Festival.
BEST BIO THAT IS ACTUALLY A MOVIE ITSELF: Tal Rossner (Without You). Rossner’s bio is, in fact, the short film itself. And what a gorgeous, poetic experimental film this is. Ultimate artistry compressed into a few minutes of cinema? Yes.
MOST TRAGICOMIC STORY ABOUT FISH: Shelly Kling-Yosef (Gefilte Fish). Hearing Kling-Yosef talk about her mother’s stories of playing with fish, until her grandmother decided it was time to strike them on the head, kill them, and cook them, is alternately horrifying, comedic, and heartbreaking – all the elements of great storytelling.
BEST INCORPORTATION OF FOOTAGE: Sergio Carvajal (Cal Express). After informing us as to his drug of choice, Carvajal’s bio only gets more interesting, as we are treated to some mind-blowing opening shots from his film.
BEST USE OF SUBTITLES: Todd Luoto (Oil Change). Not the biggest fan of public speaking, Luoto instead decides to hilariously give us his bio via subtitles, while he painfully, awkwardly looks away from the camera. Funniest admittance? His mom hated his film.
MOST COMPELLING IDENTITY CRISIS: Benjamin Kegan (Team Taliban). Kegan talks about portraying a young wrestler who chooses to dress up and perform as a member of the Taliban, hitting at a crisis of identity that is as politically relevant as it is poignant.
BEST AGGRESSIVE FACIAL HAIR / POETIC SPEECH COMBO: Mark Street (Trailer Trash). Fan of intense beards? Fan of phrases like “taking the wisp of an idea and turning it into something sublime?” This bio is for you.
MOST TOUCHING PAEAN TO ONE’S MOTHER: Paola Mendoza, Gloria La Morte (Entre Nos).
Hearing Mendoza speak about how the film is in honor of her mother, and the struggle that she went through to raise Paola, is one of the most touching moments in all of these bios.
MOST MUSICALLY IMPRESSIVE: Damien Chazelle (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench). Old-time Hollywood musicals go well in a second depression. This bio features the Chazelle and a pal playing drums and piano, piping out the tunes that are so catchy in the film. Ragtime tunes. Did we mention we’re broke?
MOST FUNNY HA HA: Jac Schaeffer (TiMER).
Schaeffer discusses what went into her decisions regarding the setting of the film in the present day, as well as what she views to be the message of the story. Dry? No, hilarious! The present-day sci-fi film is always an interesting beast, and TiMER is no exception.
MOST BRITISH: Julian Kemp (My Last Five Girlfriends).
Kemp has a wicked sense of humor. You see, he’s British, so that accent automatically adds some witty/classy points. “I make films because I can’t think of anything I’d rather do,” Kemp intones. “Except for six things. (Pause) Seven.” Kemp goes on to describe his film as a mix between “drama and documentary, comedy and puppeteering.” Finally! We’ve been waiting ages for a real puppeetering / rom-com mash-up! A must-watch.
MOST GARY COLEMAN REFERENCES: Ron Carlson (Midgets Vs. Mascots). Because you just couldn’t get enough of Gary Coleman, could you? Well, after watching this hilarious bio, you probably won’t be able to get enough of Ron Carlson, either. Just listening to him list the groups the film might offend is worth the price of admission.
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