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Spring Preview: A Guide to the Season in Indie Film

Spring Preview: A Guide to the Season in Indie Film (photo)

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Spring is a season of renewal, particularly in the movie business, where the completion of the awards derby allows Amy Adams to segue from playing a solemn nun in “Doubt” to a klutzy crime scene cleaner in “Sunshine Cleaning.” Along with “Sunshine,” there are plenty of festival favorites about to get their day in the sun, whether that’s in theaters, on DVD or on demand online or on TV. This preview recognizes the many ways to get your indie film fix, as well as the special events you might want to head out to if you live in New York or Los Angeles, including “The Brothers Bloom” director Rian Johnson’s week-long con man movie “Festival of Fakery” at L.A.’s famed New Beverly Cinema, about which we recently spoke to the director. But regardless of whether we’re watching films from the past or present, we’re looking forward to the next couple months. (And in the spirit of renewal, you might’ve noticed we have a new look, too.)

February 18

The Cast: Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski, Andrzej Chyra, Danuta Stenka, Jan Englert, Magdalena Cielecka, Pawel Malaszynski, Agnieszka Glinska
Director: Andrezj Wadja
Fest Cred: Berlin, Tribeca, Karlovy Vary, São Paulo, among others
The Gist: Nominated for a foreign-language film Oscar in 2008, the latest feature from one of Poland’s most legendary filmmakers returns to the site of where Wadja’s own father was killed in the Katyń Forest Massacre of 1940 at the hands of the Soviet secret police. “Katyń” weaves multiple storylines into a broad perspective of the tragedy, from a Polish soldier who stays with his unit in spite of the pleas from his wife to a man who rewrites history to shift the blame. As the first film to tackle the subject, “Katyń” proved to be a major success in its home country.

February 20

02182009_mustreadaftermydeath_1.jpeg“Must Read After My Death”
Writer/Director: Morgan Dews
Fest Cred: IDFA, L.A., Vancouver
The Gist: Like many documentarians before him, when Morgan Dews rummaged through a box of his grandmother’s things from the 1960s, the audio diaries, home movies and photographs that poured out proved to be the stuff of a movie. The film that ultimately emerged documents the crumbling marriage of a Connecticut couple that went into therapy long before it became popular in the U.S., yielding mixed results for the couple and their four children.

02182009_elevenminutes_1.jpeg“Eleven Minutes”
Directors: Michael Selditch and Robert Tate
Fest Cred: Philadelphia, Hot Docs, Frameline, Outfest
The Gist: For those who can’t enough of “Project Runway,” reality TV vets Selditch and Tate follow a year in the life of another reality TV vet, “Project Runway” season one winner Jay McCarroll, as the husky fashion designer fine-tunes his first show for New York’s Fashion Week. Fans of “The Hills,” don’t feel left out: passive-aggressive designer Kelly Cutrone makes a cameo.

February 27

02182009_crossingover.jpg“Crossing Over”
The Cast: Harrison Ford, Jim Sturgess, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Summer Bishil, Cliff Curtis, Alice Eve, Jaysha Patel, Merik Tadros, Alice Braga
Director: Wayne Kramer (“The Cooler”)
The Gist: Although Sean Penn had himself removed from this long-delayed ensemble drama about illegal immigration, Harrison Ford attempts to make amends with the movie gods for passing on “Traffic” by playing an immigration enforcement officer who conducts raids for mass arrests in Los Angeles. Others affected in this top-down tapestry include Cliff Curtis as Ford’s partner, Ray Liotta as a morally ambiguous INS adjudicator, Ashley Judd as his wife, Jim Sturgess and Alice Eve as a British couple with passport problems and Alice Braga as an illegal immigrant deported away from her son.

02182009_bobfunk_1.jpeg“Bob Funk”
The Cast: Michael Leydon Campbell, Rachael Leigh Cook, Stephen Root, Grace Zabriske, Khelo Thomas, Lucy Davis, Alex Désert, Eddie Jemison
Writer/Director: Craig Carlisle
The Gist: The “acerbic yet irreverently charming” Bob Funk’s days of being a happy, opinionated drunk are destined to end if he’s to woo his comely new co-worker (Rachael Leigh Cook) and win back his old job as an executive in the family business in this comedy, the feature directorial debut of Carlisle, who originated “Funk” as a play.

02182009_Echelon_Conspiracy.jpg“Echelon Conspiracy”
The Cast: Shane West, Edward Burns, Ving Rhames, Martin Sheen, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Greg Marcks (“11:14”)
The Gist: After an engineer (West) receives an unmarked package with a state of the art cell phone inside, he begins receiving texts that bring him good luck (the film original title was “The Gift”). Of course, things can’t go well forever, and he discovers he’s the center of a plot to put unlimited surveillance powers in the wrong hands.

02182009_troublewithromance.jpg“The Trouble With Romance”
Cast: Jordan Belfi, Roger Fan, John Churchill, Josie Davis, Sheetal Sheth, Kip Pardue, Jennifer Siebel
Director: Gene Rhee
Fest Cred: San Francisco Asian-American, Cinequest
The Gist: Rhee makes his feature debut following his Sundance 2002 short, “The Quest for Length,” with an indie take on “He’s Just Not That Into You,” only with characters that may be too into each other. Spread out across four vignettes titled “Bang,” “Spice,” “Dump” and “Love,” this dramedy centers on four couples working out their problems in an L.A. hotel.

02182009_RobertBlecker.jpg“Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead”
Director: Ted Schillinger
Fest Cred: Honolulu, Rhode Island, USA, Cork
The Gist: Don’t read too much into the title unless you’ve been convicted of a capital crime, but the film follows the titular Blecker, a New York Law School professor and leading advocate of the death penalty (or in his words, “emotive retributivist”) who fosters an unexpected friendship with Daryl Holton, a Tennessee death row inmate who is facing imminent execution.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

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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