Sunday, July 18, 2021

Filmmakers You Need to Search Out Part1: Notes from before I went Inde


On the 4th of July I tweeted that I was sick and tired of people prattling on about Tarantino, Scorsese, Lynch, Spielberg and all of the other big name directors that people are constantly going back to. I did this because if you listen to Film Twitter there are only  five or six directors worth speaking of and all the good films have been made until these filmmakers make their next film. Of course they are saying this at the same time as they are professing a deep love of cinema… the vast majority of which they are completely ignoring. 

In all seriousness these so called film fans, who claim to live and die cinema, seem not to be watching anything new. They are not wading into the trenches and watching anything from the up and coming filmmakers. Worse they are not attempting to find new voices that need to be amplified. They are not  out there  trying to find the next great director by watching the small films and going to the small fests. If you ask me ,they should  be, since its been my experience the best filmmakers are outside the studio system; or if they are in the system they are down in the food chain.

I’m sick and tired of Film Twitter and many of the big name writers droning on and on about filmmakers and films that have been talked up to death. Frankly most of the  “great filmmakers” are not in touch with the world today and their films show it. They live isolated lives and aren't making films that connect to life being lived.

In the tweet I suggested that people need to track down people like Marq Evans, Justin McConnell, Jason Karatilianm, Shaun Clarke and Bao Tran because they are making films that will open you mind and your idea of what film could be (even if it’s in the form of a well-worn genre). And having said it I instantly freaked out because there are more than just those guys who are doing great things. Those were just  the guys I had been talking to and about  right before the Tweet. I knew I needed to highlight all the other filmmakers,  especially the women since the last five years have been full of the most amazing films from women  (Madison Campion and Elena Beuca being just the tip of the iceberg). I needed to put all their names out there… I came up with the idea of putting a list together.

Foolishly I tweeted that I would run a list in August…and went off to make it.  I figured I could bang it out and put it up  one day and be done with it. I mean how hard could it be? Well it was hard enough that the list is going to appear over several weeks (months?) time and end eventually.

Let's face it there are a lot of great filmmakers out there that most people are not talking about.

You should know that it is a list of filmmakers with a few brief words about them and some of their films you should see see.  I know I should have given you links to the films but this has turned into a long list and for now the best I can do is point you to their work. Its so big that I have broken the list  into random bite sized pieces. I have done this so that you will  not get overwhelmed by a huge list. I want you to look at the names and try the films. Doing in bite size pieces will allow that

The list is going to run Sunday nights for the next couple of months, so its going to be a while before I get to everyone I want to highlight... and  I know the finished list maybe incomplete because there are simply too many filmmakers I have run across and I may not have written down every name.  I may miss someone  it will be accidently. I'm going to do my best not to have that happen, but then again the list won't be done until I say its done so hopefully I will get everyone I need to.

A quick note to the various filmmakers- there is no order to how anyone appears or in what part. The order is random, selected by my trips backward and forward through my notes and the posts at Unseen. They appear as I ran across a name, not because I like some one better.

And now the first part of the list.  I made the this part by going through the early days of Unseen Films, before I truly fell in love with inde films, before I started to make a lot of friends who shared films and filmmakers with me. As a result  it is a list made up of some better known filmmakers, because that's what I was watching. The part of the list that follow will be less mainstream (assuming you can call even these filmmakers mainstream.)

Jean-Francois Laguionie

Yes you all know Kiyoshi Kurosawa because of his art house hits but what you need to do is search out his early work for hire films, the Revenge films, the Suit Yourself or  Shoot Yourself series or even the completely off kilter recent films that were run by NYAFF or the Japan Society because no one else would touch them.  These are the films that show you a director who is bold and daring even when he is falling on his face.

Jiri Barta is a stop motion master who makes films unlike anything else If you can find his IN THE ATTIC OR WHO HAS A BIRTHDAY TODAY? in it's original dub (the English dub is beyond awful) you will have a film that will become a favorite forever.

Jean-Fran├žois Laguionie is a French animator who is just a brilliant filmmaker. His GWEN AND THE BOOK OF SAND is a dystopian tone poem. While his LOUISE BY THE SHORE and THE PRINCE'S VOYAGE take seemingly typical plots and turn them in to pure magic.

Do I need to mention Johnnie To? Uneven, all over the place, he makes films that are just cinematic magic - often making something out of someone else's failed film.  His ELECTION films are the equal of the GODFATHER.  And just because its a smack in the face find THE LONGEST NIGHT- though all his films are worth trying.

Andy Milligan was a force in the off Broadway world when it was just starting up into he 50's and 60's before starting to make films in the 60's. Eventually he became known for churning out trash cinema his films were at best a mixed bag and destroyed minds but he was influential.

Sergei Bondarchuk made the best version of WAR AND PEACE. However he made other films like THEY FOUGHT FOR THE MOTHERLAND or DESTINY OF A MAN that need to be seen,

Sabu is one of the greatest director's you've never heard of. Why are you not searching out his genre spanning films? He is one of the greatest directors in the world and while he may not always hit, he is always interesting. All his films are worth seeing but try DRIVE which is a meditation on life.

Jim Mickle made MULBRRY STREET and then the masterpiece STAKE LAND Start there and be amazed.

 Isao Takahata found Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki. He was also the better director. Just see GRAVE OF FIREFLIES and tell me differently

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperis changed the world when they made MONDO CANE. However everyone overlooks the other films they made, specifically AFRICA ADDIO and GOODBYE UNCLE TOM which have multiple versions and like them or not are are in your face looks at the world and our thoughts. Their final film MONDO CANDIDO is an uneven take on the classic by Voltaire, which make you wonder what they would have done next.

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