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SXSW remnants.

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No Clark Kent.
Before it gets ridiculously late (instead of just goofily so, which is where we may be falling with this) to be posting anything more on SXSW, we wanted to get a few other things out there:

"Confessions of a Superhero": In Christopher Dennis, director Matt Ogens has found a doc subject almost too good to be true — the boyishly handsome (if tattered around the edges) Dennis makes his living by donning a Superman suit, painstakingly twisting his hair into a Christopher Reeve curl on his forehead, and heading out to Hollywood Boulevard to pose in photos with tourists for tips. He’s a Superman obsessive — the apartment he shares with his enraptured girlfriend is packed with merchandise and memorabilia — who, as another sidewalk superhero points out, is suffocating in his own fixation, his life curtailed by his unhinged dedication. None of film’s the other subjects — the once homeless man who dons a full foam suit to play the Hulk, the buxom former homecoming queen who dresses as Wonder Woman, the short-tempered guy who does Batman — are ever as interesting, though they’re all a little tragic and often seriously lacking in self-awareness, rattling around the bottom rungs of the entertainment industry and dreaming big dreams. Ogens treats his subjects gently, even when they display a troubling inability to separate fact from fiction, but this means that promising threads, like Dennis’ perhaps dubious claim that he’s the son of actress of Sandy Dennis, are allowed to drop. The aggressively moody doc sometimes hangs its themes a little heavily, but it’s compelling, and the still photographs that pepper the interviews and observational footage are poignant and strikingly memorable.
"Confessions of a Superhero" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Steal a Pencil for Me": Oscar-nominated director Michèle Ohayon‘s fourth feature-length documentary is a love story set in a concentration camp. The romance of Jaap Polak and Ina Soep bloomed during their stints together at Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, documented in the letters they smuggled to each other — Jaap was married at the time, and his wife was with him at the camps. The horrors of the Holocaust have been chronicled in so many films that we’ve started avoiding them because we’re uncomfortable with the impassivity you start to develop — nothing can make you picture the flames of hell that surely await you quite like fighting boredom during a Holocaust film. Jaap, now in his 90s, and Ina are a charming, mischievous couple, and "Steal a Pencil for Me" offers a novel angle on a terrible time, but it’s an only fitfully engaging film that relies heavily on a florid readings of the letters. Better are the film’s scattered moments of improbable levity, as when Ina tells her daughter about how, even at Bergen-Belsen, she used to wear rollers every night, because while they didn’t get many opportunities to wash their hair, it might as well fall nicely.
"Steal a Pencil for Me" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Fish Kill Flea": Co-directed by Aaron Hillis, who’s both a friend of ours and a contributor to the IFC News website, "Fish Kill Flea" is a charming and bittersweet portrait of a large flea market that’s settled into a dead mall in upstart New York. With a tip of the hat to "Gates of Heaven," the unnarrated doc allows its subject to guide its progress, its camera winding through the cluttered aisles of the flea market and, eventually, on an evocative tour through the wreckage of the mall itself. On the way, the filmmakers capture some marvelously observed moments — an impromptu performance of the theme from "Doctor Zhivago" on a keyboard, a sullen portrait with the Easter Bunny — but the heart of the film ultimately lies in its interviews with the sellers. One has recruited her mother to assist her in selling pot paraphernalia; another matter-of-factly displays his wares, which consist mainly of Nazi and concentration camp memorabilia. The film takes all of these people in with scarcely a wink and nary a smirk, even when one vendor shares, apparently unprompted, the story of his encounter with Bigfoot.
"Fish Kill Flea" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Everything’s Gone Green": Novelist Douglas Coupland‘s original screenplay debut treads into expected territory of 20-something malaise. It’s been over 15 years since Coupland’s first and still most significant cultural contribution, "Generation X," and his young characters are no longer hiding from society in the desert, they’re gamely slogging along in quirky jobs and trying to live happy, ethical lives. In Coupland’s view, the weight of material acquisitions makes that an impossibility, and likable lead Paulo Costanzo‘s character Ryan lands a job at the national lottery, where he learns this lesson by chronicling the initial exhilaration and eventual ruin met with by the winners — not that this stops him from cashing in when an opportunity to make some illicit extra dough comes around. "Everything’s Gone Green" introduces some new Coupland neologisms (a "seethrough" = a building of sleek condos owned by Asian investors who don’t live in them), but doesn’t offer the insights one would hope; the film has the feel of a mid-90s throwback, which is tough in a festival offering multiple and very up-to-date perspectives on young adult angst. It is, however, rampantly and refreshingly Canadian, and one of the few films we can think of in which Vancouver plays itself.
"Everything’s Gone Green" will be released by First Independent Pictures on April 20th.

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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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