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Your Winter Indie Film Preview

Your Winter Indie Film Preview (photo)

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There’s always the temptation to stay inside during the winter, made even more compelling by the wide array of films you can watch at home. But that would be ignoring the 89 reasons why the only place more inviting than a couch near the fireplace is a seat at your local arthouse where the options range from the ancient Roman war epic “The Eagle” with Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell to the fantastical Palme d’Or-winning elegy “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” from Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Many awards contenders will expand across the country while those sick of such serious fare can fall back on revenge-themed thrillers with Jason Statham, Nicolas Cage or the deadly Korean twosome of “The Housemaid” and “I Saw the Devil,” the action stylings of Donnie Yen (“IP Man 2”) and Tony Jaa (“Ong Bak 3”), or the comedies of John C. Reilly and Ed Helms (“Cedar Rapids”) and Paul Giamatti (“Barney’s Version” and “Win Win”). Likewise, if you don’t have a ticket to Sundance later this month, rest assured, you’ll finally get to see a few of last year’s hits (Josh Radnor’s “Happythankyoumoreplease”) along with this year’s (Gregg Araki’s “Kaboom”). All in all, it’s a surprisingly exciting time at the movies for this time of year and this is your guide to the indie films coming your way soon.

January: Week of the 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th

February: Week of the 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th

March: Week of the 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th


January 7th

“Americatown” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jonathan Guggenheim, Cory Howard, Jon Stafford, Barbara Weetman, Tiffany Salter
Director: Kenneth Price
The Gist: The reRun Gastropub Theater in Brooklyn will host this surreal comedy starring Upright Citizens Brigade-bred stars Guggenheim and Howard (a.k.a. Superkiiids!) as denizens of a surreal township that has compressed all of America into a home of just 1000 citizens besieged by a skunk ape and prone to spilled coffee and crazy legs. A rare low-budget film that wasn’t considered by its makers to be “film festival-friendly,” it hopes to find a home itself in Dumbo.


“Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer, screening schedule)
Director: Kenneth Bowser
Fest Cred: Woodstock
The Gist: After chronicling important moments in television (“Live from New York: The First 5 Years of Saturday Night Live”) and film (“Easy Riders, Raging Bulls”), Bowser’s latest documentary is a biography of folk singer Phil Ochs, the ’60s troubadour whose sharply penned songs about Vietnam and political apathy not only inspired activism during the era, but became an influence for musicians ranging from Ani DiFranco to Pearl Jam, who have kept his spirit alive through cover versions long after his death at the young age of 35. Sean Penn, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Christopher Hitchens are just a few of those interviewed for the film. Opens Wednesday, January 5th in New York.


“If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: George Piştereanu, Ada Condeescu, Mihai Constantin, Clara Voda
Director: Florin Şerban
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Edinburgh, Warsaw, Thessaloniki, Telluride
The Gist: Winner of a Jury Grand Prize at Berlinale, this Romanian drama co-written by “How I Celebrated the End of the World” director Catalin Mitulescu tells the story of an imprisoned teen who waits out the final five days of his sentence at a reform school while his estranged mother returns home to reclaim his younger brother who he’s taken care of in her absence. At least he has the distraction of a young social worker who he hopes to run off with upon his release.


“Season of the Witch” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Ulrich Thomsen, Christopher Lee
Director: Dominic Sena
The Gist: Since we’re glass half-full kind of people around here at IFC.com, we take it as a good sign that Relativity had so much faith in Nicolas Cage’s Crusades-set epic that they were willing to buy it back from original distributor Lionsgate after several shuttered release dates. Then again, the first week of January isn’t always the greatest show of confidence. Either way, it’s Cage and Ron Perlman suiting up as knights assigned to escort a young girl they believe to have supernatural powers to a monastery to perform an exorcism to protect their homeland.


“The Time That Remains” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Elia Suleiman, Ali Suliman, Saleh Bakri, Amer Hlehel
Director: Elia Suleiman
Fest Cred: Cannes, Toronto, Athens, London, Vancouver, Tokyo
The Gist: Israeli director Suleiman (“Divine Intervention”) uses the founding of the state of Israel as the basis for this seriocomic reflection on his own coming of age, with a series of vignettes spanning from the settlement of 1948 through the present day. Opens at the IFC Center in New York on January 5th.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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GIFs via Giphy

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.

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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.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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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 IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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