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Daniel Burman on “Family Law”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Family Law,” IFC Films, 2006]

According to Argentine director Daniel Burman, most of life’s problems originate with our parents — more specifically, our fathers. “When I started to date, I realized that all the relationships that didn’t go well were ones where on the first date, the girl would talk about her father,” he says. “The woman I ended up marrying didn’t talk about her father until maybe six months after we met.”

Burman’s latest film, the warm comedy “Family Law,” talks a lot about fathers and sons and the ways in which generations of men struggle to relate to one another. Daniel Hendler plays Perelman, a young attorney and law professor grappling with fatherhood and living in the shadow of his more successful father (played by Arturo Goetz). Burman — who cast his own 2-year-old son as Perelman’s precocious offspring — took a break from writing his next film to speak to us about his own struggles as a father and a director.

Where did the idea for the film originate?

It came from my own experience of becoming a father, when I was watching the way that the bond between the mother of my child and my son formed so quickly. It was a physical bond and a spontaneous bond. It makes it seem like a woman has always been a mother her whole life, whereas fathers have to work to form the link with our sons.

This is your third film [after “Waiting for the Messiah” (2000) and “Lost Embrace” (2005)] on the subject of fatherhood. Why is this subject so important to you?

I could make films about this topic for my whole life. This film is about the search for one’s own identity, and building a bond with our parents and with our children is the first step towards that. It’s very difficult to know who we are if we don’t know who our parents are. It’s something that I didn’t invent — Freud discovered it a long time ago.

You’ve made several films. Does making films get easier or more difficult as your career progresses?

It’s easier to do the movie in some ways, and harder to do the movie in some ways. It’s easier to get the resources, but when everything is ready and you have fifty people asking you questions, it makes each movie harder, because people tell you less about what they really think. It’s something you always have to work on; you could be working with someone who knows that you’ve done five different films and they might think you’re doing something wrong, but they won’t say it to you, because they’re going to think “Well he knows what he’s doing,” but many times I don’t!

How does the film industry in Argentina differ from that of the United States?

It’s much easier to make a movie in Argentina than in America, because there are no lawyers, agents, or managers. You just have the movie. That’s the good side; the bad side is that the market is very small. In the U.S., you have the risk of whether the film will be a success, but you have a potential for success that is limitless. In Argentina, the difference between a success and a failure is very subtle. If it goes well for you, you can maybe paint your house and maybe get a new car. If you have success in the U.S., it changes your life and the next generation’s life.

Your film is one of several from Argentina to be released in the United States in 2006, including “The Aura” and “The Holy Girl.” Is this a particularly exciting moment for cinema in Argentina, or has this culture always existed and Americans are just realizing it now?

This is a moment of a lot of energy and movement in Argentina, but it’s also because we’ve been able to get past some of the hurdles to putting movies out in the U.S.

Americans are not used to reading when they see a film. It’s something that’s very hard to get past. When you go to the movies in Europe, everyone’s reading the film — it’s normal in Europe. It’s not something that’s going to stop you from seeing a film. But here it is.

Why do fathers and sons have such a difficult time communicating?

It might sound scandalous to say, but I don’t think paternity is a natural bond. It’s very much a social bond, a more cultural bond than that of the mother. It’s difficult because we look at the women and we see how they do it so easily even without thinking about it, and we’re over there reading books and talking to our children and we always do it wrong. Whatever you do, you’re going to be a bad father! My objective is to be the least bad father that I can be.

“Family Law” opens in New York on December 8th (official site).

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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