2015 Independent Spirit Awards

It’s awards season yet again. And again we’re all sitting in the third row with baited breath to see what films, stars and storytellers will be given the opportunity to bring home a congratulatory gold-plated statue (or embarrassing figurine if you happen to take home a Razzie). While The Academy Awards (Oscars) tend to get all the glory and pizzazz, the award show that is held in fairly high esteem around here is The Spirit Awards ceremony:

Along with being a fantastic party, the Spirit Awards ceremony also brings together top talent from Hollywood and throughout independent film. Awards are presented for the year’s best achievements in independent film, with statues given for Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best Feature Made for Under $500,000 (the John Cassavetes Award) and many more.

In keeping with its Los Angeles roots, the Spirit Awards takes place each year in and around a beachfront tent in beautiful Santa Monica. Currently in its 30th year, the show remains as original as the films and filmmakers it honors.

Winners are chosen by those in the know: Film Independent Members and Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) members. Voting members receive select DVD screeners and are invited to attend free screenings of all nominated films before choosing the Spirit Award winners.

Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization. Its voting members include filmmakers, film industry leaders and film lovers. Anyone passionate about the art of film can join as a Member and vote for the winners of the Spirit Awards.

Since starting in 1984, The Spirits have had a lot of fun times at their ceremony. As part of this “rich” history, the main site has put together a list of highlights from each year over the past 29 years (including Sarah Silverman’s vagina).

This year’s show will play on February 21st, 2015 (the night before the Oscars). So blah-di-blah-di-blah, here are the nominees for this years ceremony (which in my opinion is mostly correct ;).

BEST FEATURE
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
Love is Strange
Selma
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

BEST SCREENPLAY
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi – Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton – Only Lovers Left Alive

BEST MALE LEAD
André Benjamin – Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow – Love is Strange
David Oyelowo – Selma

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo – Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz – Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Alfred Molina – Love is Strange
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Would you like to know more…?

NYC Indie Film Festival Needs our Help

While it may not be quite as obvious as of late, we here in the RowThree really love our indie fare. In fact, without Indie Film Festivals, it’s pretty likely that this site wouldn’t even exist.

At any rate, if you’re in the NYC area (or not in the NYC area) and want to help support a local festival that really tries hard to advance the cause of indie films by introducing little known artists, free submissions and promoting a community of awesome, check out the indiegogo campaign for the NYC Indie Film Festival.

Here in Minnesota, I’m a HUGE fan of The Flyway Film Fest and this looks like a really great NYC version of a similar tone, atmosphere and camaraderie.

2013 Independent Spirit Award WINNERS

spirit awards 2013

 
Tomorrow is Oscar Night. But the real party is tonight at “The Spirit Awards.” While 12 Years a Slave unsurprisingly pretty much cleaned house (earning 5 wins of its 7 nominations), it was nice to see some recognition for other, smaller films like Mud and Short Term 12.

Mostly nothing overly surprising from this end. How bout you? Anything on the below list catching your eye? Winners are obviously in RED

BEST FEATURE
12 Years a Slave
All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

BEST DIRECTOR
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
J.C. Chandor, All is Lost
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Jeff Nichols, Mud
Alexander Payne, Nebraska

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

BEST MALE LEAD
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Would you like to know more…?

“Unnerved” Gets Trailorized

One of our favorite indie filmmakers around these parts we continue to pimp out is our guy, Gary King (of the award-winning How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song and New York lately). He makes quality films seemingly year after year and touches all manner of genre each time (very Soderbergian/Almodovr-esque in that way). When a director that I like is trying to cover all the genre bases, the one I’m usually most excited about and interested in seeing what they can do with, is absolutely horror. Psychological horror, fantasy horror, splatterpunk, supernatural or something new entirely – I’m interested and want. And here we come to Unnerved.

Consumed by grief after the bizarre death of their young son, Mallory and Frank find their marriage on the verge of collapse. Attempting to escape the supernatural events following them, they flee to a remote lake house only to discover the mysterious entity that took their child is still very much a part of their lives. Desperate to find answers, they enlist the help of a reclusive clairvoyant with a secret past. As the relentless haunting grows in power, what they discover will not be the answer they were hoping for.

This film reteams director/screenwriter King with his longtime collaborator Mark DiConzo as Frank, and features the talented newcomer Katie Morrison in the role of Mallory with Elena Sanz rounding out the lead cast as Eleanor. Unnerved is scheduled to play festivals this Fall with a full release in 2015.

Just a few minutes ago, the director posted the following image on Facebook claiming he made his cast watch these movies for inspiration and ideas for where the movie is heading. This is what convinced me to back this project immediately.

The trailer below is an exercise in shot selection and aural cues. If you listen carefully, you can actually hear the awesome.

Blue Ruin

Blue Ruin is a classic American revenge story that recently won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Directors’ Fortnight. The film follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

From the look of the trailer it just sort of appears to be a pretty standard revenge flick. But I sense something more. I sense some real psychological thrills and tension. I think this movie has a lot more going for it than meets the eye. A little bit of Frozen River, a little bit of Match Point and a little bit of Death Sentence. Maybe even some Prisoners. I don’t know; I think this trailer, despite its sort of standard film, has me really intrigued about what else might be going on in here. Does this feel like something you’re interested in?

Blue Ruin is written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier and stars Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Amy Hargreaves, Kevin Kolack and Eve Plumb. Take a look at the trailer below and see what you think.

2013 Independent Spirit Awards NOMINEES

spirit awards 2013
To the surprise of no one, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave leads all nominations this year with seven – including of course best picture, best director, best screenplay and three of the four acting categories.

 
And they’re back. Awards season. Of the bigger ceremonies, The Spirit Awards are certainly among the favorites here in the third row. We always feel obliged to kick off our shoes and socks, roll up our cuffs and PBR me ASAP along with the guests of the award show – which will be held on March 1st (the day before the Oscars) literally on a beach in Santa Monica. And to add to the fun, Patton Oswalt will be hosting the awards. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

These are just the nominees and the actual statue handout is a long way off. Though there’s not really much in here to be surprised about with these nominations, excitement does begin to build today and we’re super excited about this year’s crop of movies that are actually good!

Catching my eye off the pitch is a nod to Spring Breakers for best cinematography. That’s cool it didn’t get lost in the shuffle. And I didn’t see The Spectacular Now (I don’t think it looks all that interesting), but I am happy to see Shailene Woodley back again for her role. Also Mud being recognized for not only best director (Jeff Nichols), but also getting the Robert Altman Award which is cool.

How bout you? Anything on the below list catching your eye?

BEST FEATURE
12 Years a Slave
All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

BEST DIRECTOR
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
J.C. Chandor, All is Lost
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Jeff Nichols, Mud
Alexander Payne, Nebraska

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now

BEST MALE LEAD
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Would you like to know more…?

“A Clockwork Orange” Reboot? “Alex” will Hit Theaters Next Year

Another case here of “I don’t know much about it but I’m fascinated to learn more. I found this little droogie over at Quiet Earth and simply had to share. It looks like someone is trying to reboot or maybe sort of remix Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Now one might think most would immediately scream blasphemy at even the thought of such an idea. And given that A Clockwork Orange is my favorite movie of all time (and Kubrick my favorite director), you might think I’d be among them. And yet…

There’s an interesting idea at the heart here and I for one can’t wait to seek this out somewhere next year when it hits theaters. After viewing the trailer it seems clear that writer/director Florian Frerichs isn’t trying to capitalize on Kubrick; but rather paying a low budget homage here. I like the time period, setting and look of this future. Plus the fact that the plot seems to stem from finding an old VHS copy of A Clockwork Orange warms my heart (reminds a little of Human Centipede II no?).

In the near future the society of a megalopolis is divided into two fractions: on one side a super-rich minority, led by the ruthless dictator Lucius (Werner Daehn), living a life of debauchery and decadence. On the other side the vast majority, dwelling in different degrees of nearly unbearable poverty.

When the young Frederick (Nikolai Kinski) comes in possession of the partial copy of a long forbidden Stanley Kubrick movie, it sparks a growing movement amongst the city’s formerly aimless youths, developing fast into serious opposition to the ruling system, which retaliates with rapidly increasing brutality. Frederick becomes Alex, his friends the new droogs. But are they even aware of the consequences of their actions?

How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song: Available March 26th!

At last year’s Flyway Film Festival, Matt and I were honored to be among jury members for the fictional narrative feature category. While voting, it was a pleasure to award best director to Gary King for his musical, How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song. Now, some may be screaming bias, but our jury is not alone in the festival world of awarding HDYWAJSS accolade after accolade. And now for the good news…

You can see HDYWAJSS starting Tuesday no matter where you are. You don’t have to wait for a festival screening to check it out as it will be available for download on several major platforms (Vudu, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and a DVD and Blu-ray will also be available on Tuesday. Here’s the OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

 

As a side note, if you’re in the Minneapolis area, I’ll see you at the upcoming screening on April 11th because despite being able to see it at home starting Tuesday, quite honestly if you can get to a big screen to see this spectacle. It’s quite shiny! Sign up for the Tugg to ensure your spot today. It will be at the Southdale AMC. Probably see you before and after stumbling from bar to bar in the area.

“The Pirate Bay – Away From Keyboard” | Free Online

from makeuseof.com and Wikipedia

Simon Klose, the Swedish documentary and music video maker, wants you to pirate his film, TPB AFK (The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard), and he’s not even kidding. His documentary about file-sharing website The Pirate Bay premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 8th, opening the festival’s documentary section, and was released online for worldwide free download (or purchase) at exactly the same time on YouTube (embedded below) and on The Pirate Bay.

Despite these free viewing options, the film has raised approximately $22,000 with over 2000 paid downloads (with a base price of $10). For those who wish to support the creators, apart from online donations, they can buy the DVD version and digital download. The pre-order price of the DVD is $23 and a digital download is $10, which comes with deleted scenes and bonus material. Pre-orders can be made via the official movie website.

The documentary covers the stories of Pirate Bay administrators Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and Peter Sunde as they handle their 2009 Sweden court case about civil and criminal copyright laws. After being convicted, they are then forced to handle life “away from keyboard”.

“The cool thing is that you guys are going to be part of the premiere.… We’re streaming the film online, for free. You can download it, you can share it, you can remix it… It’s all up to you,” said Klose. “I’m doing this because I believe – from a personal perspective – I want my films to be seen by as many people as possible, so my problem is that a normal copyright would become an obstacle between me and my audience.”

AFK puts together about two years’ worth of footage, starting from 2009, that covers the entire story. The funding of the movie came partially from Kickstarter (around $50,000), and the rest of the budget was funded by programs that support the arts and free expression.

The film has already premiered online, was shown at the Berlin International Film Festival, and is set to be shown at SXSW in March.

My review