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Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap

Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap (photo)

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Tim Rutili’s band, Califone, may be at the peak of its powers on its recent album “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” and, song after song, show no signs of waning. What’s more, Rutili, as a director, has leveraged Califone’s songcraft into a feature film of the same name that will premiere this January in a little town called Park City. It’s the product of Rutili’s decidedly cinematic songwriting process and love for surrealist films and the likes of Luis Buñuel.

In the movie, a fortune teller played by Angela Bettis (“May”) lives in an old house crowded with ghosts. When a light appears in the woods outside, the ghosts realize they are trapped, and insanity ensues, all to a score and soundtrack by, of course, Califone. I caught Rutili on the phone before we had the good news about Sundance. He was driving cross country in a remarkably quiet car, headed toward the Southwest, already doing research for his next film — a “road movie,” of which he gave me a little hint. I got a bigger hint of “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” — an exclusive clip from the film is below.

I know you’ve made some shorts before, but this is your first feature… how long has it been brewing?

Not very long. I started writing last September, so basically a year from starting the script to finishing the film. I’m hearing from friends who make films that isn’t usually the case, so we got lucky. We have to do some more soundtrack work, but other than that — it’s done.

In the clip, the camera moves from a scene through someone’s ear into another scene with a stuttering old man. Maybe I’m a mean ageist, and I don’t know where it fits in, but I thought it was hysterical.

That doesn’t fit in at all. We have a couple other scenes where the camera goes into people’s ears and you get this non sequitur of what’s happening in their, you know, ghost brain. It’s just fucked up — all those things were just making us laugh. We had some footage of that old guy performing…

Wait a minute — that wasn’t really an old guy though? Was it!?

For the sake of interview, yeah, it was. The guy that does it won’t acknowledge to any of us that it’s a character. He would get mad.

12102009_califone4.jpgIt had a real David Lynch feel for me. Not just the insanity, but specifically the ear tunnel transition shot — I’ve seen him make similar moves. Is that something you drew upon?

I love David Lynch. The only thing that came from him out of this is the idea that things don’t have to make sense, and you don’t have to really explain yourself [laughs]. That scene is a perfect example of that.

There’s also the song “Buñuel” on the record, about the surrealist filmmaker. Have you been studying him?

I was watching his movies a lot, and I wrote that song in front of one of his films. We have a character in the film named Bunuel, too. He doesn’t play a Spanish filmmaker, just a guy named Bunuel with a Super 8 camera. We ended up putting film in the camera and using a lot of what he shot. So there was a camera within the scene.

There were some things I wanted to feel like [Buñuel] — “Exterminating Angel,” his film where people are trapped in this dinner party. As it goes on, the people cannot get out of the house. There’s nothing keeping them there, they just can’t leave. What happens when you get a bunch of rich people at a dinner party that can’t leave for days on end? It’s weird as fuck, and there are these things that happen that are so beautiful. In one scene, out of nowhere, a bear crosses in the background. A woman opens her purse and she’s looking through it and pulls out a dead bird. You don’t know why, but its happening and there’s no reason, but it’s beautiful.

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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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